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Facts about Olive Oil and Cooking!

Olive OilOne of my readers recently questioned my recommendation to add olive oil to tomatoes and lightly sauté them. He was concerned about heating the olive oil saying both it removes their vitamins and that liquid oils are not meant to be heated.

Well, thank you Reader! I love that you read my blog AND it gives me a chance to reinvestigate what I think I know to be true….. because with new studies being released almost daily, what we think today may not be true tomorrow. This one, in terms of research was a no brainer. They said the same thing over and over again. So here we go with: Facts about Olive Oil and Cooking!

According to the Olive Oil Source:
…..we can conclude that despite the heating … There’s decades of great epidemiologic evidence to prove the value of olive oil.

But let’s give you more detail:

“Olive Oil Myth Olive oil loses its benefits when heated

The Facts: Excessively heating olive oil will evaporate the alcohols and esters which make up its delicate taste and fragrance. Heating olive oil will not change its health aspects, only the flavor. Use a cheaper olive oil which doesn’t have much flavor to begin with if you want to fry with it, add a more flavorful olive oil after cooking or at the table. 

Olive Oil MythHeating a cooking oil will make it saturated or a trans-fatty oil.

The Facts: As far as making a saturated fat, according to Dr. A. Kiritsakis, a world renowned oil chemist in Athens, (author of OLIVE OIL, FROM THE TREE TO THE TABLE), all oils will oxidize and hydrogenate to a tiny degree if repeatedly heated to very high temperatures such as is done in commercial frying operations. Olive pomace oil and virgin olive oil are both highly monounsaturated oils and therefore resistant to oxidation and hydrogenation. Studies have shown oxidation and hydrogenation occurs to a lesser degree in olive oil than in other oils. But in any case, the amount of hydrogenation is miniscule and no home cook would ever experience this problem”. 

The fact that there even has to be an article by fit day that is called “Food Myths Debunked: Cooking with Olive Oil Remove its Health Benefits” clearly shows that there have been untrue articles written to stir the snakes, however at the end of the day all experts agree  on this issue:

“There has been a pervasive idea that heating olive oil removes the health benefits, but as long as you keep your olive oil below the smoke point and store appropriately, you are still getting good nutrition, even when you cook at higher temperatures”!

Medical Daily agrees. The damage is only when you go above the oils smoking point, and remember: you can clearly see the color change: 

“……when olive oil gets too hot, its health benefits degrade to the level of other oils, which can sustain hotter cooking environments but do not begin with the same benefits. It’s for this reason that researchers advocate olive oil’s use on the back end of a dish and not during its preparation”.

So when does the oil really start to change, when you’re cooking with it? Medical Daily has this to say:

“When olive oil starts to smoke/reach the ‘smoke point’, the properties of the oil change. When your oil starts smoking, oxidation occurs and carcinogenic free radicals form. The smoke point will be higher for better quality extra virgin olive oils than some of the lower quality olive oils stored in clear containers. But even for deep frying, temperatures tend to stay below that, around 250- 350°F, which is well below the smoke point for olive oil”.

This article says you can clearly see the oil has changed, because when that happens, the color changes. So you can control whether or not it loses it value. The writer is more concerned with how you store it, than how you cook with it — another heads up about olive oil!

“Generally, the fats and phytonutrients in olive oil can become affected by heat and light if they are stored in clear bottles, sitting in the sunshine or stored in the cupboard over your stove. This constant heat and opening of the bottle can cause the oil to become rancid. Store your olive oil at room temperature in a dark place and use within 6 months”.

I hope this answers your questions Roger and again thanks for participating in the conversation!

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