Olive Oil 101: Everything You Need to Know About Cooking With Olive Oil

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Ian Burke’s article on October 16th 2018 again demonstrates the need for a greater understanding of the desirability of cooking with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO).

The brief article, which does not provide the benefit of references, is generally an upbeat and positive piece which cites some, but by no means all of the health benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. However, there are some rather confused and confusing aspects to the publication which need further evidence based clarification.

In the opening paragraph, the author refers for the first time to the “smoke point”. We now know that are many misconceptions regarding the smoke point of an oil. It is not in fact an accurate way to describe the behaviour of an oil when heated (further reading – cooking with EVOO) . It would have been helpful here for the article to have noted the paucity of the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory components in refined oils in comparison with extra virgin oil and the impact on the health properties.

We find the phrase “Olive oil, thankfully, isn’t all that bad for you” rather unhelpful and confusing. There is now a considerable body of evidence to support the benefits of regular consumption of Extra Virgin Olive Oil over and above its ability to reduce the risk of heart disease cited in the article (further reading – health benefits of EVOO)

Whilst the positive description of the ability of olive oil to provide an extra layer of flavor and balance to a variety of dishes, with links to recipes, adds a welcome note of enthusiasm to the final paragraph, there are some inaccurate implications in the section on smoke points. There is no evidence to support limiting its use in “high heat cooking” and most readers will not clearly understand what this means. There are significant benefits of using extra virgin olive oil as the cooking medium at all usual temperatures of food preparation as experienced in the Mediterranean Diet. In fact, research has shown that in comparison with other oils, heat tolerance is superior, the formation of harmful transfats lower and the residual antioxidant capacity higher (further reading – literature on cooking oils). We should be encouraging regular use of extra virgin olive oil in cooking and a greater depth of understanding of smoke points among commentators and food writers

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