Should You Cook With Olive Oil?

It’s widely known that Extra Virgin Olive Oil has many health benefits: modulate gut microbiome, improve insulin sensitivity, and lower risks for cardiovascular disease, prevent neurodegenerative diseases, etc (check out this post for a summary). However, there’s been a heated debate on whether olive oil is suitable for use as a cooking oil. Opponents say that because of olive oil’s low smoke point (compared to other common cooking oil like vegetable, canola, and sunflower oil), it’s not an ideal oil for cooking and should only be used as a finishing oil to drizzle on cooked dish. As oil is heated and smokes, it starts to breakdown into harmful free radicals which can lead to cancer. However, EVOO contains loads of antioxidants like polyphenols that could counteract that effect. Whatsmore, it’s one of the key components in the Mediterranean Diet!

I came across this easy-to-understand and helpful video on Youtube that explains why EVOO could be a good option as a cooking oil. The host gave a few examples of research studies that debunk the myth of olive oil not being good for cooking. And I especially like his point on cost – for everyday home cooking, I would spend that extra few cents per meal for the health benefits and the delicious taste of olive oil (I know it’s not for everyone), but for commercial use, of course it makes sense to cut down cost from the cooking oil as they go through so much every day in a scale-up operation.

Video from Adam Ragusea

So what’s the verdict? In my opinion, EVOO is a good option for use in cooking, but ideally not in extremely high heat cooking like deep frying. Yes, refined oils like canola, vegetable and soybean oils have lower smoked points and the added upside of having a neutral taste. But refined oils have gone through various steps of extraction and purification process that involve the use of harmful chemicals like hexane to make it more shelf stable (less likely to go rancid), taste more palatable to a wide range of consumers, and cheaper.

Here’re more resources on the health benefits of EVOO how it’s suitable (or not) when use in cooking.

Look, more confusions here!!

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