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THE MYTH OF COOKING WITH OLIVE OIL
Refined oils such as Corn Oil, Canola Oil & Vegetable Blends are extracted from plants using harsh chemical solvents such as hexane before being processed with other chemicals such as acids, caustic soda, and bleach. These fundamentally alter the oils to make them edible (while also creating many unpleasant byproducts). Unlike refined oils, Extra Virgin Olive Oil is made by physically crushing olives and is ready to enjoy without any chemical alterations. With a smoke point averaging 405° and high oxidative stability, EVOO retains significantly high levels of antioxidants and polyphenols during cooking.  

 

THE SMOKE POINT OF OLIVE OIL
A polyphenol-rich extra virgin olive oil, like those produced by McEvoy Ranch, is one of the most stable oils to cook with. Though it does have a lower smoke point compared to refined oils, averaging 405° F, this temperature is higher than the needs of the average cook. To put this temperature into context, 405° F exceeds that of deep frying temperatures (350° - 375° F). General wisdom surrounding cooking with olive oil states that heating olive oil past this smoke point will release harmful compounds that destroy what makes olive oil healthy (free-radical fighting polyphenols). However, recent studies have shown that even when heated past its smoke point, extra virgin olive oils produce low levels of harmful compounds due to its naturally high antioxidant content.

The smoke point of olive oil has been used to sell cheap, less nutritious refined cooking fats. In reality, focusing solely on the smoke point is a poor indicator of an oil’s stability under heat. To understand the stability of an oil, one must look at oxidation as well.

WHAT IS OXIDATION IN OLIVE OIL?
Oxidation is the point at which oxygen begins to break down the fatty acids in olive oil. This, though, is drastically slowed by the high levels of antioxidants present in high-quality extra virgin olive oil. A study published in ACTA Scientific Nutritional Health points specifically to the high levels of antioxidants as a primary contributor to the health of olive oil even when cooked at high heat. The experiment showed that EVOO yields lower levels of unhealthy compounds compared to other oils when heated due to the natural fatty acid profile and antioxidant content.

While the smoke point of olive oil may be lower, experiments such as these indicate that the natural stability of olive oil, in particular its natural antioxidants, make it a much healthier option for cooking compared to refined oils.

 

COOKING WITH OLIVE OIL VS. REFINED OILS
An important distinction when considering what oil to cook with is the quality of that oil. A high quality olive oil has been shown to be healthier than refined oils due to its oxidative stability (as discussed above). Because an olive oil with high antioxidants retains much of its health properties after heating, it has several clear advantages over other vegetable oils used in cooking. One primary health benefit to using a polyphenol-rich EVOO is that your food will absorb it and likewise be protected from oxidation as it is enriched with the health-promoting bioactive compounds.

Compared to refined oils such as canola, corn, or vegetable, extra virgin olive oil displays the greatest oxidative stability. Even when comparing EVOO to oils with a higher smoke point, it produces lower levels of polar compounds, trans fats, and other harmful byproducts.

When discussing cooking with extra virgin olive oil, ensure it’s a high-quality 100% extra virgin olive oil, like the California olive oil that McEvoy Ranch offers. If you want to learn more about refined oils and how to avoid them, check out our article on this topic!

 

HIGH QUALITY OLIVE OIL IS IMPORTANT
An important distinction when considering what oil to cook with is the quality of that oil. A high quality olive oil has been shown to be healthier than refined oils due to its oxidative stability (as discussed above). Because an olive oil with high antioxidants retains much of its health properties after heating, it has several clear advantages over other vegetable oils used in cooking. One primary health benefit to using a polyphenol-rich EVOO is that your food will absorb it and likewise be protected from oxidation as it is enriched with the health-promoting bioactive compounds.


Sources:
Real Simple Magazine Aug 2022
Trends in Food Science and Technology: Cooking with Extra Virgin Olive Oil May 2022
USDA Recommends Olive Oil for Deep Frying Sep 2021
The Culinary Institute of America Clarifies Guidance on Cooking With Olive June 2021
US News Apr 2021
Yahoo Finance Feb 2021
Dr. Cate Feb 2020

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