Is extra virgin olive oil healthy for high-heat cooking?

People often ask if it is safe to fry in olive oil. The answer is a resounding YES. Extra virgin olive oil is not just delicious, it is also the best, healthiest choice of oil in which to deep fry, roast, sauté, etc.. In fact, a recent study found that extra virgin olive oil is the safest oil for use in high heat:

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and other common cooking oils were heated up to 240°C and exposed to 180°C for 6 hours, with samples assessed at various times, testing smoke point, oxidative stability, free fatty acids, polar compounds, fatty acid profiles and UV coefficients. EVOO yielded low levels of polar compounds and oxidative by-products, in contrast to the high levels of by-products generated for oils such as canola oil. EVOO’s fatty acid profile and natural antioxidant content allowed the oil to remain stable when heated (unlike oils with high levels of poly-unsaturated fats (PUFAs) which degraded more readily). This study reveals that, under the conditions used in the study, smoke point does not predict oil performance when heated. Oxidative stability and UV coefficients are better predictors when combined with total level of PUFAs. Of all the oils tested, EVOO was shown to be the oil that produced the lowest level of polar compounds after being heated

Evaluation of Chemical and Physical Changes in Different Commercial Oils during Heating, ACTA Scientific

Deep frying chicken, By Takeaway – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

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