Is Cooking with Olive Oil Safe, Even at High Temperatures
Updated: Jun 13, 2022
There’s a reason the most famous dishes of all time use olive oil: it’s delicious, healthful, and flavorful. However, some people still argue whether you should cook olive oil using high temperatures.
Olive Oil Has a Higher Smoke Point than People Believe
Have you ever tried frying an egg with olive oil? There’s a good chance you’d like it. Olive oil can take high heat and still deliver delicious results.
Olive oil is the perfect cooking oil for everything, from searing meats to stir frys. The neutral flavour means it can take on the taste of whatever you are cooking, so you don’t have to worry about an overpowering olive aroma. Plus, it has many health benefits.
Exposure to high temperatures can quickly oxidize oils. This is especially true of oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats, like soybean oil and canola oil. Increasing exposure to heat can form trans fatty acid, which is toxic to the body. When this happens, they can form compounds that are associated with cancer.
When cooking with oil, it is the oils with less saturated fats and more polyunsaturated fats that can oxidize. This is because polyunsaturated fats have many double bonds (especially in the Omega-6 family). These double bonds easily react with oxygen and become damaged. This results in a bad smell and taste as well as an increase in harmful free radicals.
And then, of course, there’s olive oil. With only one double bond per fatty acid, it turns out that olive oil is just fairly resistant to high heat. Surprisingly, olive oil can be heated as high as 200°C without breaking down and rendering it chemically unstable.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil Can Take Extreme Temperatures Too
Despite common misconceptions, extra virgin olive oil offers one of the most versatile and healthy forms of cooking and frying.
You might think that all oils share the same smoke point, but that’s not the case. In fact, EVOO is actually the most stable oil for high-heat cooking, due to its abundance of healthy monounsaturated fats and polyphenols.
While it’s true that extra virgin olive oil is made from cold-pressed olives and doesn’t undergo as much refining as other oils, it can still be used for cooking. In fact, EVOO can be used at temperatures as high as 180-200°C.
Selecting the Right Olive Oil for Your Cooking
When it comes to cooking, the type of olive oil you use makes a big difference. The kind you choose depends on how much flavour you want in your cooked dish.
If you want an accent that compliments the other flavours in your dish, EVOO would be best. It has an intense flavour due to its low acidity, rich texture, and fruity notes.
Regular olive oil is cut with lighter oils like vegetable or canola, so the flavour is less intense. While other oils can easily become rancid when exposed to heat, olive oil is exceptional because it retains its high quality even under high temperatures.
Cooking with olive oil is one of the healthiest ways of getting your daily dose of vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, and antioxidants.