February 22, 2018

Why You Should Stop Cooking with Olive Oil

Heat is one of the most destructive elements to unsaturated fats.

So why are people cooking with them??

I blame the media for over-simplifying the topic of fats, especially heart-healthy fats. Olive oil is a great example. Population studies have shown that olive oil is cardio-protective (heart-healthy); the media are all over it. Meanwhile, there’s cholesterol in butter and cholesterol being found in the occluded arteries of heart attack victims.  The next thing we know,  butter is being tossed out for olive oil in people’s kitchens. What a tragedy.

The truth is that the olive oil we’ve been told to buy is great on your salad, but it’s a terrible choice for cooking.Green Stuffed Olives

You knew frying was bad for you—but it’s even worse when you do it with olive oil and other unsaturated fats!

To understand why HEAT is an enemy, one needs to first recall that olive oil is composed of unsaturated fats.   The problem with unsaturated fats—which are liquid at room temperature— is that they are more ‘reactive’ than saturated fats (the kind that are still solid at 21 degrees C).  For chemistry reasons, even medium HEAT (over 325 degrees F) damages unsaturated fats, and can create toxic oil by-products in the food you’re frying.  These substances act as free radicals-—damaging the cells they come in contact with in ways that are not always immediately obvious but have been shown to cause irreparable damage, aging and disease with frequent exposure.   Who wants that? This is the reason why, if an oil smokes, it should be discarded, never used to cook food. It will make you sick.

Extra Virgins  Should be Treated As Such

“Extra virgin” olive oil is a minimally processed form of the oil, meaning chemical solvents and heat have not been used in its extraction from the olive fruit.  This is why it has a higher nutritional value than just ‘olive oil’.  The nutrients have not be damaged.   But like all natural and minimally-processed foods, olive oil will go bad if it is not stored or used correctly.  (You will notice that the ‘good stuff’—the kind that’s green—is usually in a darkly coloured glass bottle. This is because another enemy of oil is LIGHT. ). So it’s the WORST kind of olive oil to fry with.

How Hot is YOUR Frying Pan?

Unlike ovens, most stove top cooking ranges don’t reveal specific temperatures for different levels of heat on the display/knob. It is no wonder then that most of us are completely unaware of  just how hot our frying pans get.  The reality is, most of us like getting our cooking done quickly, so we crank it up to HIGH. This can quickly create a surface temperature of 500 degrees F in your frying pan—-a temperature NO food oil can tolerate without damage.

Unsaturated fats are delicate things. Respect your olive oil by keeping it in a cool, dark place—away from the stove, and out of the frying pan! Better yet—choose baking, steaming or poaching as they do not require added oils for a positive cooking experience.

 

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