In many heart-healthy and even brain-healthy diets they rave about the use of olive oil. Olive oil, especially the extra virgin type, has been shown to be beneficial to overall health, but is typically advised not to cook with.
Although drizzling the golden oil on top of food seems to be helpful, critics say cooking with it is unhealthy. But this might as well be an old wives’ tale because there is no evidence to show that cooking with olive oil is unhealthy. The key here is to know which oil to use at the appropriate time. This way you can achieve the benefits of oil.
Let’s just quickly reiterate how extra virgin olive can benefit our health. For starters, olive oil contains mono-saturated fat, which is considered healthy, unlike trans-fat or saturated fat. The Mayo Clinic reports that mono-saturated fats can promote heart health by reducing bad cholesterol and helping normalize blood clotting. Mono-saturated fat can be beneficial for blood sugar, which is important for diabetics. As you can see olive oil is a great addition to healthy eating, but be warned it does come with many calories, so like anything else you consume, moderation is key.
Choose the right olive oil
Although extra virgin olive oil has been crowned king in the health world, there are other options which may better suit your cooking needs. Follow this quick guide when choosing an olive oil for your cooking purposes.
Extra virgin: Strong, fruit flavor. Good for dressings, dips and sautéing.
Virgin: Milder flavor. Medium-heat sautéing and pan-frying.
Pure: Flavor and fragrance are lost. Good for roasting, baking and deep frying.
Avoid the smoke point
When a cooking oil hits the smoke point that is when it breaks down and any benefits are lost. Here are the smoke points for each oil:
Extra virgin: 375 to 405 degrees Fahrenheit
Virgin: 390 degrees Fahrenheit
Pure: 410 degrees Fahrenheit
Choose a different oil
Of course you want the benefits of olive oil, but sometimes it’s not meant for the job. Knowing when another oil is best suited can not only improve your meal, but offer alternative benefits. Here is a list of healthy cooking oils that you can try depending on what you are making:
Knowing which oil to use for which dish can make a world of a difference, flavor wise and nutrient wise. So although olive oil is a great go-to for health benefits, don’t be afraid to explore the world of healthy cooking oils for alternative options.
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