As we settle into this new way of living, I know a lot of us are turning to cooking more meals at home. It's a wonderful way to connect with our families, share our love and eat delicious food. But, one of the questions that always comes up is: What oil should I use to cook with?
Here in the US, I’ve heard and read hundreds of times that you’re not supposed to cook with olive oil. What? Given my family’s cooking habits and traditions, I constantly asked myself, what does one cook with if not with olive oil?
Today, we're going to demystify some myths around cooking oils - and why EVOO is actually the best performing cooking oil across a variety of factors, based on a 2018 research study from The Scientific Nutritional Health Journal. We will be diving into some of the scientific concepts behind why this is the case - so you're armed with all the information you need. We get a bit technical here…
As a bit of background on how researchers typically evaluated cooking oils before: it was based on their smoke point. So, heavily processed oils, such as canola oil or grapeseed oil, were considered "safe" for cooking due to their high smoke points - although they are not necessarily healthy for us. The scientific reasoning here is that it was previously believed once an oil hits its smoke point, it would begin to oxidize and release toxic chemicals. Therefore, EVOO - which is largely unfiltered and unprocessed - was thought to be "damaging" after hitting a certain heat.
But, when scientists reevaluated this theory in recent years, they found that this concept wasn't true at all. The researchers measured ten different oils - ranging from EVOO to coconut oil to avocado oil (and many others) - and analyzed their degree of oxidation, their oxidative stability, smoke point, fatty acid profile and a variety of other important factors. They tested each oil across multiple different heat points and for different lengths of time.
Across the board, unsuspectingly, EVOO performed the best against all factors. Researchers believe that this is because of the high antioxidant levels in EVOO, which makes it more difficult for the energetic bonds to be broken. And therefore, it highly reduces the toxic by-products that were once thought to be emitted when EVOO reaches a smoke point.
So, if you walk away from any of this with thought it's this: unprocessed, high antioxidant fats like EVOO are healthiest at all points in our cooking - even at high heats. So, don't be afraid to cook in your pan with EVOO!