It's a myth that will not die. It is so well-known that many people believe it. I've even heard top chefs say that Extra Virgin Olive Oil should be consumed cold and not used to cook with.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a good choice for cooking. Here are some reasons why.
A Fast Chemistry Lesson
Oils are mainly made up of triglycerides, which are fats. These oils are composed of three (hence, the "tri") fatty acids that are attached to a compound called Glycerol.
Oils also contain small amounts of free fatty acid, which are fatty acids that have not been attached to glycerol but are still able to function on their own. There are many oils that have different levels of free fatty acid, and each oil's quality will vary. This is vital!
You can choose to have the fatty acids in your oil as a part of a triglyceride or completely free. They can be saturated, monounsaturated, or polyunsaturated. These names are based on the chemical structure and number of double bonds in the fats. Monounsaturated fats do not have double bonds while saturated fats do not have any. Polyunsaturated oils, however, have multiple double bonds.
Oils can be damaged by heat, light, and air, particularly if they are exposed to high heat or prolonged heat. To ensure freshness, oil should be kept in a cool, dark place. This is why it is important to be careful when selecting oils for cooking.
Understanding Smoke Points
The smoke point refers to the temperature at which bluish smoke rises continuously from the oil. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a natural product, contains small amounts of water.
You will notice steam rise when the oil is heated in a pan. This doesn't mean that you should damage the oil. The risk of oil oxidation and the formation of potentially dangerous compounds increases when the oil is heated above its smoke point.
Polyunsaturated fats, which have a variety of double bonds are most vulnerable and susceptible to damage. Saturated fats without double bonds are more stable than saturated fats. Monounsaturated fats that only have one double bond are highly resistant to oxidative damages.
Oils with high levels of free fat acids are more susceptible to oxidative damages. This is especially true for oils used in cooking.
The smoke point is usually used to determine whether an oil can be used in cooking. It's not the only important factor. Even within one oil, it can vary.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
If you only look at Olive Oils, there are many smoke points depending on where the data is taken. It all depends on the quality and freshness of the oil as well as how it was stored.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is an extraordinary cooking oil because of its three key characteristics:
- It is a good source of monounsaturated, stable fatty acids.
- It contains low levels of free fatty acid.
- It also contains high levels of antioxidants.
The smoke points for Extra Virgin Olive Oils usually range between 190-220degC. The highest quality oils, such as Cobrm Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oils are at the upper end of this range.
This is how it compares to cooking. Sauteing on the stove is at 120°C. Deep-frying is typically 160 to 180°C and baking in the oven 180°C. You rarely cook at a temperature higher than that.
It is important to note that there is no additional benefit to using oil or fat with a higher smoke point. Your extra virgin olive oil will work well if your vegetables are being roasted in the oven at 180°C. It is safer to choose an oil that has a smoke point greater than 220degC.
Why Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a Good Choice
A few exceptional studies have shown that Extra Virgin Olive Oil is stable when used in cooking. These studies have proven that different oils can be broken down at different points.
They heat oils repeatedly, heat them for extended periods of time, and heat them to very high temperatures.
These conditions are unlikely to occur in home cooking, so extra virgin olive oil's consistent performance in these tests proves that it is safe to use at home. This is also true for oils rich in polyunsaturated fats like sunflower oil or generic vegetable oil.
Studies have shown that vegetables cooked in extra-virgin olive oil are significantly higher in antioxidants. This doubles the benefits of extra virgin olive oil and more protective compounds.
Research has shown that extra virgin olive oil is a beneficial and protective food for a healthy diet. It can be used in dressings, for drizzling and in nearly all cooking applications. It is safe and beneficial for our health.
Do the same as the Mediterranean countries for hundreds of years. Enjoy cooking with extra virgin olive oil.