If you’re like many home cooks, you most likely keep an olive oil cruet readily accessible for cooking.
Olive oil is among the healthiest of all cooking oils, making it clear why so many of us choose it to prepare our meals. Yet, despite its popularity, and growing popularity as part of the Mediterranean diet, there are doubts about its suitability for cooking.
Let’s finally put this debate to rest and weigh in on whether or not you should cook with olive oil.
Is Cooking With Olive Oil A Bad Idea?
Recently, the smoke point of olive oil has been a source of concern for many cooking experts. As a result, some argue that because olive oil has a lower smoke point, it is a less suitable candidate for cooking situations requiring higher temperatures.
Additionally, some fear that heating olive oil to a higher temperature can diminish its health benefits. Moreover, the oil can release toxins or compounds that can harm your body.
Yet, despite these concerns, the U.S. Department Of Agriculture (USDA) lists olive oil as a recommended oil for deep frying. In case you didn’t know, when it comes to deep-frying, you can’t use just about any oil; all it needs to be is extremely hot.
The USDA also reports that at a certain smoke point, oils break down and a foul odor or taste is possible. In addition, the USDA lists the olive oil smoke point, or burning point, at 410 °F. Nevertheless, the USDA doesn’t mention toxicity beyond this point or elaborate on what exactly is occurring in oils as they reach this burning point.
An Acta Scientific Nutritional Health study also showed extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) to be the most stable oil when heated. Compared to oils with higher smoke points, extra virgin olive oil displayed the greatest oxidative stability, releasing the fewest polar compounds, trans fats, and other byproducts. However, this is only when it comes to level of nutritional benefits.
And when this is all said and done, the olive oil did not undergo abrupt changes despite having a lower smoke point than other oils. So, is it really that bad? We say no.
Push Your Olive Oil Worries Aside
Olive oil has been found to be an excellent choice for cooking even with a low to moderate smoke point, as based on the USDA’s recommendations for frying oils. Thus, we recommend using olive oil in the kitchen without concern.