Is olive oil used for cooking – let’s have a deeper look.

Sometimes people get confused to know the answer – Is olive oil used for cooking?  Because normally we know it’s random use as a very good skin moisturizer. However, it still has got multidimensional use due to the excellent healthy constituents present here in olive oil.

No doubt to tell – olive oil is incredibly beneficial to one’s health.

It is well known for being high in healthy fatty acids and antioxidants, Olive oil is found as a staple ingredient in the diets of some of the healthiest cultures in the world.

Some people don’t think that it is suitable for cooking due to its high unsaturated fat content. Whereas others consider it to be a great choice for cooking, even for high-heat cooking methods like frying. Let’s take a deeper look into these thoughts to have a clear idea about the question – can olive oil be used for cooking?

Why confusion raise – is olive oil used for cooking?

Fats and oils can get damaged on the molecular level when they are subjected to intense heat. This is particularly true for oils high in polyunsaturated fats, such  as most vegetable oils like soybean and canola.

When they become too hot, they can produce toxic substances as lipid peroxides and aldehydes, which can cause cancer. When heated, these oils release carcinogenic chemicals that are known to cause lung cancer if inhaled. Using them in the kitchen can prove to be dangerous.

Only cook with fats that are stable at high temperatures if you want to reduce your exposure to possibly dangerous and carcinogenic chemicals.

The most important traits of cooking oils are:

Oxidative stability: This is the oil’s lipid cells resistance to interacting with oxygen.

Smoke point: The temperature at which the lipids in the oil begin to degrade and produce smoke.

In both categories, olive oil performs admirably well. It has oxidative stability and a smoking point just like any typical cooking oil. A healthier alternative, in fact.

Fat Content in Olive Oil

Saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids are the three types of fatty acids.

While saturated fats like coconut oil are heat resistant, polyunsaturated fats are found in most vegetable oils. Olive oil, on the other hand, is predominantly made up of monounsaturated fats.

Only a few polyunsaturated fatty acids are known to be heat-sensitive, such as those found in soybean oil and canola oil.

Let’s that oils are often made up of a variety of fatty acids. Olive oil is made up of 73 percent monounsaturated fats, 11% polyunsaturated fats, and 14% saturated fats.

87% of the fat content in Olive oil is made up of heat-resistant monounsaturated and saturated fats. For cooking oil, this is an ideal property to have.

Moderately High Smoke Point

Known as the temperature at which oil begins to deteriorate and create smoke is known as the smoke point

Fat molecules break apart and transform into a variety of toxic chemicals when this happens.

However, other trace components in the oil, such as vitamins and antioxidants, can begin to burn and emit smoke at lower temperatures than the oil itself.

Free fatty acids make up a percentage of the fatty acids in most oils. The lower the smoke point of an oil, the more free fatty acids it contains. Refined oils have a higher smoke point because they are poorer in trace nutrients and free fatty acids.

And as the heating causes more free fatty acids to form, the smoke point gets lowered over time. This helps us know that Olive oil is suitable for a wide range of cooking, even most pan frying techniques.

Antioxidants & Vitamin E Abundancy

Extra virgin olive oil is made from the initial pressing of olives and contains a variety of bioactive compounds, such as strong antioxidants and vitamin E.

The main function of Vitamin E is to act as an antioxidant. This vitamin helps in the fight against free radicals which are known to harm cells. Essentially, this means that olive oil provides great natural protection against free radicals.

Olive Oil is Oxidative Damage Resistant

When oil oxidises, it combines with oxygen to produce a variety of hazardous chemicals.

This process occurs at room temperature and causes oils to go bad. Understandably, when you heat oils, this process gets accelerated.

However, Olive oil holds up against heat really well thanks to its strong antioxidant content and low polyunsaturated fat levels.

It is wrongfully believed that heating olive oil can cause trans fats to develop. According to a study, frying olive oil multiple times only increased the trans fat content from 0.045 percent to 0.082 percent, this increase is not significant enough to cause concern.

Olive oil is quite stable in general, even when subjected to harsh circumstances such as deep frying.

Cooking with Olive Oil

There is a myth that cooking may cause some of the antioxidants to be destroyed. This is not true. Olive oil is unlikely to oxidise or be seriously damaged during normal cooking.

That being said, certain antioxidants like vitamin E, which are heat sensitive, may be degraded.

Oleocanthal is one of the most active chemicals in extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil’s anti-inflammatory properties are due to this chemical.

According to a test, heating olive oil at 464°F (240°C) for 90 minutes reduced the amount of this chemical by 19% and by 31%.

And in another study, 24 hours of simulated frying lowered several beneficial chemicals, whereas 10 minutes in the microwave or boiling in water had only negligible impacts.

Olive oil’s trace components are also responsible for some of the flavour. As a result, warming olive oil can degrade its flavour.

Keep in mind that the conditions in these studies are typically quite harsh.

Oleocanthal is one of the most active chemicals in extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil’s anti-inflammatory properties are due to this chemical.

Olive oil’s trace components are also responsible for some of the flavour. As a result, warming olive oil can degrade its flavour.

See more – benefits of olive oil in cooking.

Conclusion: Is olive oil for cooking?

The bottom line regarding the answer if olive oil can be used for cooking is that extra virgin olive oil is a particularly nutritious cooking oil that also retains its health benefits when cooked with. However, the biggest disadvantage is that overheating might alter the flavour.

Olive oil is not too far behind. On the other hand it is heat resistant and does not oxidise or go rancid when cooked.

All in all, olive oil is not only a great cooking oil, but definitely one of the healthiest and safest.


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