The debate is finally over! You CAN deep fry with olive oil now! Olive oil is no longer relegated to the back of the kitchen cabinet when you are pan frying or deep frying according to the FDA and the USDA.
But there is more to the discussion than this as it has been going on for a long time now. Part of it is lack of information on the part of both the government as well as the industry. But the information from the International Olive Council (IOC) sets the standards for what olive oil is – and this is important because few standards exist for what is “vegetable oil” for example.
Information on Olive Oil vs. Vegetable Oils
Extra virgin olive oil is created by pressing the olive fruit and extracting the oil directly and naturally without heat – different from vegetable oils. Secondly, olive oil is well classified, studied and standardized in Europe by the International Olive Council (IOC). Finally, extra virgin olive oil possesses a higher percentage of monounsaturated fats than vegetable oil. These monounsaturated fats have a anti-inflammatory function and are known to improve heart health.
Vegetable oils however, originate from the seeds – not the “fruit” of the plant. Vegetable oils can be difficult to pinpoint the origin or even the chemical makeup of the oil. So the consumer is taking a risk on the conditions for growing these vegetables and the quality of the oil extracted. Studies have also found that although vegetable oils may be healthier than animal fats – they still can promote inflammation in the user like corn oils for example. This inflammation can be associated with increased heart disease.
Cooking with Olive Oil vs. Vegetable Oils
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – This form of olive oil is the least processed and seen as the healthiest choice! Created from olives harvested earlier in the season, extra virgin olive oil is the olive oil with the highest level of polyphenols. These polyphenols actually help stabilize the oil during cooking and preserve the oil up to a heat rating of about 400 – 425oF for cooking purposes – much higher than most people need. In fact, the Culinary Institute of America (CIA!) has long established that cooking with olive oil at higher temperatures is safe and healthy for you.
Below is the new chart established by the USDA on cooking and frying with olive oil:
There are some that would advocate that we never should be cooking with oils higher than 410 degrees F in order to be healthy – but again this is a matter of food culture, habits and taste.
Experts say that vegetable oils although they may not smoke until extremely high temperatures, that still does not eliminate the risk of oxidation during heating that can trigger inflammation in our tissue when heated.
So for the safest, healthiest frying you can do – use extra virgin olive oil and use it below 410 degrees F in your cooking!
Chart courtesy of FSIS USDA Food Safety Guidance.
* Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.