Do you use olive oil in your cooking? Did you know that heating olive oil destroys many of it’s heart-healthy properties? Let’s take a look at why:
This post is in direct response to a question I asked my readers last week. I asked what their favorite oil to cook with is. And I was surprised at how many folks responded with “olive oil.” So I just wanted to share a little of what I have learned along the way about cooking with fats.
I’m not an alarmist. Nor do I believe that if you cook with olive oil that you are eating tons of free radicals that are going to kill you. I just think that there are better choices when it comes to cooking fats and oil. Leave your olive oil cold and unheated.
It is my opinion that saturated fats are the best fats to use when cooking. This has to do with the molecular structure of oils. Saturated fats contain no double bonds so are not sensitive to heat, light or oxygen, unlike unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats (vegetable oils) have double bonds, making them very sensitive to heat, light and oxygen. Heating these types of oils will change their molecular structure, destroying many of the healthy properties.
5 Reasons to STOP Cooking with Olive Oil
1. Monounsaturated fats in olive oil are not heat stable:
Olive oil is made up of about 70-80% monounsaturated fat, in the form of oleic acid. This oleic acid is what gives olive oil many of it’s wonderful health benefits like improved insulin resistance, cancer-fighting properties, and improved heart health. It is also these monounsaturated fats that give olive oil a low smoking point, making it unsuitable for temperatures above 250’F (121’C).
2. Heart-healthy polyphenols in olive oil are easily damaged by eat:
Olive oil has phenolic compounds, mainly hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein, that are rich in antioxidant properties. These phenols, which work as antioxidants to preserve heart health, begin to degrade at high heats.
3. Heating olive oil destroys Omega Fatty Acids:
Olive oil contains both Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids. According to Dr. Mercola, omega-3 fats are “significant structural components of the cell membranes of tissues throughout the body and are especially rich in the retina, brain, and sperm, in which docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) constitutes 36.4% of total fatty acids”.
These fatty acids are sensitive to heat and are destroyed when olive oil is heated. I have not been able to find the exact temperature at which omega fatty acids are destroyed but find it a good practice to not heat them at all to preserve their nutritional value.
4. Low smoke point= breathing in toxic smoke.
If an oil is heated beyond its smoke point, it gives off toxic smoke. Because olive oil has a low smoking point, cooking with olive oil runs the risk of creating smoke that contains compounds that are harmful to human health. You may not even notice that you are breathing in this toxic smoke.
5. Many olive oils are not REAL:
Many brands cut their olive oil with cheap oils like soybean oil, canola oil, hazelnut oil and low grade olive oils. A study by UC Davis in 2011 found that 73% of the 5 best selling imported brands of olive oil did not meet the international sensory standards for extra virgin olive set by European regulators. This meaning that they could be adulterated or blended with other vegetable oils such as soy, corn, cottonseed, hazelnut, or canola oil.
So what I am saying is that the olive oil you are using may not be REAL olive oil and may contain heavily processed vegetable oils that contribute to inflammation in the body and are possibly GMO. YUCK!
So, what to do?
Olive oil is a healthy and delicious oil. Just don’t use it for cooking. It is wonderful in salad dressings and dips and can be drizzled over already cooked vegetables.
Choose saturated fats for cooking, not unsaturated. Fats that I recommend cooking with:
Does this list freak you out? Did you know that saturated fats are actually good for you? Read more here:
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photo credit: depositphotos.com / igordutina