Cooking oils are calorie dense and nutrient poor. There is no nutritional “need” for refined oils in our diet because we can get the fat we require from whole foods such as avocados, nuts and seeds.
However, most people do regularly use oils for an easy cooking method, and it’s no secret that fat holds flavour.
So which oil is best?
You have likely heard that oils have a “smoking point” AKA “burning point” which was thought to indicate when an oil is breaking down, releasing harmful free radical compounds that cause oxidative stress and damage in the body.
Research now shows that the oils with the highest smoke points also release the most toxic compounds.
The higher the oil’s content of antioxidants, the less vulnerable the oil is to degradation (breaking down) and the more stable it is for cooking.
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) has the highest amount of antioxidants of all the cooking oils studied and when heated releases the least amount of toxic compounds.
Next best in line is coconut oil however its stability is due to its saturated fat content, not antioxidants.
You may have heard that “it’s not a good idea to cook with extra virgin olive oil and that it should be reserved for salad dressings”, but now we know it’s actually the better (best) choice for cooking compared with the non-extra virgin olive oils, and other common oils such as canola oil, rice bran oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil and avocado oil.
Factors other than heat that cause oils to break down include oxygen (air) and light, that is why you should always buy extra virgin olive oil in a dark glass bottle or a tin.
Make sure the extra virgin olive oil you buy is not blended with other oils, aim for organic and cold pressed, look out for quality and certification stamps.
Additionally, the mono-unsaturated oleic fatty acids found in olive oil, when consumed in place of other dietary fats, are associated with many health benefits (often as part of the Mediterranean style diet) such as improved cardiovascular health and reduced hypertension, weight management, management of metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, reduced dysbiosis and enhanced microbiome diversity.
Extra virgin olive oil is very versatile and can be used in the kitchen in many ways; for salad dressings, stir fry and dips, also in place of butter when baking. This is why we opt for extra virgin olive oil in all our recipes.
De Alzaa, F., Guillaume, C., & Ravetti, L. (2018). Evaluation of Chemical and Physical Changes in Different Commercial Oils during Heating. ACTA Scientific Nutritional Health. https://actascientific.com/ASNH/pdf/ASNH-02-0083.pdf