I am continually being asked ‘which oil should I cook with?’ My answer: “hands down Extra Virgin Olive Oil is by far the best oil to cook with, and to use in your diet”. Why?
Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO):
- Contrary to popular belief, EVOO has fairly high smoke point (206°C). Most household cooking temperatures will never reach this high, as can be seen by these Cooking Temperatures:
- Sautéing 120°C,
- Deep frying 160-180°C
- Oven Baking 180°C
Therefore there is no benefit of using oils with smoke point of 220°C and over.
- High in Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) which are heat stable. Smoke point is actually not a good guide to safety of the oil for prolonged heating or repeated frying. Studies of prolonged heating of EVOO for 36hrs, show good stability of EVOO for 4hrs, and even up to 8hrs of prolonged heating. Proving that we can not only cook with EVOO, but that we should be cooking with EVOO as opposed to other less stable polyunsaturated oils such as seed oils (like Sunflower oil).
- High in phenolic compounds: powerful antioxidant, ant inflammatory, anti-thrombotic. Total polyphenols of EVOO are around 700ml/kg (up to 1500ml/kg depending on quality) vs virtually none in other household oils such as Rice Bran Oil, Canola Oil and Virgin Coconut oil.
- High in Squalene: anti-oxidant, anti-tumour activity against colon and skin cancer.
- High in Sterols: lowering LDL-cholesterol, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-artherogenicity, and antioxidant activities.
- Naturally contains tocopherol (Vitamin E): major antioxidant in the body.
- Lowest amount of Polar Compounds (such as aldehydes, alkyl benzenes, and aromatic hydrocarbons) which are linked to cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Studies show that in comparison with other oils, when EVOO is heated for 15mins at 240° it has the lowest production of polar compounds, significant lower than canola oil and rice bran oil, and even lower than coconut oil.
So, in answer to which oil to cook with, Extra Virgin Olive Oil should be your oil of choice for sautéing, stirfrying, oven baking and salad dressings. The only time I may use a different oil, is if I want to particular flavour, e.g. sesame or peanut nut to make stirfry.