Everybody loves olive oil, yet a recent survey proved that most olive oil lovers show a lack in their knowledge about olive oils. One of the top persistent myths is that you can’t or shouldn’t cook with olive oil, but the fact is olive oil has more monounsaturated fat, the most stable of the healthy fats, than other oils.
Top reasons you can (and should) love olive oil for cooking:
- Cooking oils are comprised of different kinds of fat and some fats are more stable than others. Saturated fat is the most stable but lacks health benefits. Mono-unsaturated Fat (MUFA) is excellent when it comes to stability and has documented health benefits too. Finally, Polyunsaturated Fat (PUFA) is the least stable and will break down more quickly over time and especially when heated.
- To make a good thing even better, olive oils have antioxidants that further fend off oxygen and provide even greater stability over time when heated.
- Extra virgin olive oils are produced without heat or chemicals and thus retain the most antioxidants. Olive oil will have antioxidants in varying amounts depending on how much virgin olive oil has been added to the refined olive oil. Olive oil’s stability is so good that you can even re-use it a few times for cooking (it will be best if you filter it after each use).
- A question asked by many an olive oil lover is “what about the smoke point? Olive oil has smoke points that are comparable to common cooking oils. The ideal cooking/pan frying temperature is around 350⁰ Fahrenheit. The smoke point of extra virgin olive oil is between 350⁰ F and 410⁰ F. Since olive oil is primarily refined olive oil with some virgin olive oil added, the range is more consistent and higher, typically 390⁰ F to 470⁰ F. In both cases, the range is high enough for all kinds of cooking, including sautéing, grilling, shallow frying, roasting and baking.
- Furthermore, the smoke point of olive oil is comparable, and in some cases higher than common cooking oils such as soybean, sunflower, peanut, canola and corn oils.
So here is the crux of the matter:
Extra virgin olive oil has three key qualities that make it an excellent cooking oil:
it contains predominantly stable mono-unsaturated fatty acids,
it has a low level of free fatty acids and
it has a high level of protective antioxidants.
Of course, the most important reason to love olive oils for cooking is the final result – tasty food you can feel thrilled about!
In a nutshell:
Multiple peer-reviewed studies have shown that olive oil
• is the best oil for frying. Olive oil outperformed vegetable, peanut, corn, soybean, sunflower and canola oils.
• can be heated to high temperatures
• can be reheated and reused safely
• can be heated to high temperatures for long periods of time
• produces fewer harmful compounds when overheated
• is also good for shallow frying
• is heart healthier
• may fight disease
For many, cooking with extra virgin olive oil seems to have rules and myths associated with it. Extra virgin olive oil is one of the best oils to cook with! It is perfect for cooking, frying, sautéing, poaching, dressing and baking.
Cooking with olive oil also brings an additional flavour profile to your dish that’s unique to only extra virgin olive oil. Experiment and play around with different uses for olive oil and find out for yourself how olive oil can help enhance your next dish. Baking with extra virgin olive oil can bring a new and wonderful twist to any of your favourite baked goods. Using olive oil instead of butter is also a great way to cut saturated fats out of your favourite treats. Baking with extra virgin olive oil adds a wonderful, nuanced flavour to baked goods.
The health effects of dietary fat are controversial. However, experts agree that olive oil — especially extra virgin — is good for you.
At the end of the day, quality extra virgin olive oil is incredibly healthy. Due to its powerful antioxidants, it benefits your heart, brain, joints and more.
In fact, it may be the healthiest fat on the planet!