They say there’s a time and place for everything, and we couldn’t agree more, especially when it comes to choosing the type of oil you will use depending on what you are doing in the kitchen. So, is it true that you should only use olive oil for salad dressing and avoid heating it?
Let us start of by saying that the health benefits of olive oil are unrivalled. Olive oil makes up a huge part of the Mediterranean diet, which is considered the healthiest eating pattern in the world with the most benefits on our bodies. Olive oil is rich in a number of antioxidants, especially vitamin E, which is why it has been proven to reduce inflammation and cancer risks, particularly breast cancer.
Although traditionally low-fat diets were thought to be healthier for our hearts, recent evidence is proving that olive oil lowers the levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in our blood and prevents artery blockages. The benefits on our heart don’t stop there. Olive oil can also slow down the ageing process of our heart by protecting the cell walls in the arteries.
Because of the health benefits above (and so many more benefits associated with olive oil) we can be tempted to use olive oil in just about everything we cook. If you are cooking at high heats, it is really important to choose fats that are stable when heated. Unstable fats can degrade with heat and produce harmful compounds, which are in some cases carcinogenic. Olive oil has been marketed as an unstable fat, but the high levels of antioxidants, such as vitamin E, in it actually destroy any harmful compounds that can get formed with heat. This is especially true for extra virgin olive oil, which has the highest concentration of antioxidants.
Overall, cooking with olive oil is not as bad as we once thought. However, there are healthier choices if you will be using extremely high temperatures. Avocado oil, for example, is incredibly resistant to heat and has a higher smoking point.
It’s also worth noting that the health benefits of olive oil have been shown in extra virgin uncooked versions of the oil. Think about it, if all the antioxidants are used to neutralize the compounds formed during heat, there won’t be much left to fight harmful compounds within our bodies. Overall, the higher quality of your olive oil the better it will be for cooking, heating, and the more benefits it will have on your body if it’s consumed raw.