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Olive Oil

Posted Oct 13 2009 10:06pm
Have you ever noticed how sometimes when you are cooking with olive oil it ends up smelling and tasting funny? You could be using it incorrectly. Extra virgin olive oil has become a staple in most kitchens and on shows like Rachael Ray you can see her frying just about everything up with EVOO. What these shows fail to tell you is that cooking with olive oil at too high of a temperature makes it less healthy and possibly rancid.

Olive oil is decently healthy - on the nutritious fats/oils list it falls somewhere in the middle - at the bottom of the good list (ranked from best to worst):

  1. Ghee and butter
  2. Duck fat
  3. Chicken fat
  4. Lard
  5. Beef tallow
  6. Coconut oil
  7. Palm kernel oil
  8. Palm oil
  9. Olive oil
  10. Safflower oil
  11. Sunflower oil
  12. Cottonseed oil
  13. Peanut oil
  14. Corn oil
  15. Canola oil
  16. Soy Oil

The bottom four are pretty much unfit for human consumption, which is ironic because if you pick up any processed food item in the store you can pretty much bet it will contain one of them. Soy oil is found in 70% of store bought food. And you may be thinking "she's just saying that because she can't have soy", but if you think about it - why are these oils used in all of our food? They are the cheapest. And why are they so cheap? Because they are genetically modified and less nutritious than the other fats and oils. Also, their extraction process makes them rancid. But I'll save that for another post.

Like I said, olive oil is decently healthy. It's high in antioxidants, omega acids, oleic acid, vitamin E and enzymes. But in order to reap these benefits, you must use it correctly.

Different types of olive oil:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil - oil from the first cold-pressing, that is made without chemical or high temperature extraction methods. Has an oleic acid level of <1%.
  • Virgin Olive Oil - also from the first cold-pressing and made from the same extraction methods as EVOO. Has an oleic acid level of <2%.
  • Pure Olive Oil - blend of VOO and refined olive oil. Same acidity as VOO.
  • Light Olive Oil - contains very little if any EVOO.

Don't let the "light" labeling fool you - all of these oils have about 125 calories per tablespoon.

So, what's the point of all of this? If you are buying extra virgin olive oil because it is better for you than the other types of olive oils, but then using it for high-heat cooking or baking, you are basically paying more for the oil but then defeating the purpose. You are paying extra to make your oil rancid and less nutritious.

How the different oils should be used:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil/Virgin Olive Oil - use as a salad dressing, marinade, or sauce. Add to your food after it has been cooked.
  • Classic Olive Oil - use for sauteing and grilling.
  • Light Olive Oil - use for baking and high-heat cooking.



Feister, D.O., Wayne A. "Fats and Oils." Weston A. Price Meeting. Lima.

"Types of Olive Oil." Explore Crete, guide for real Crete. 08 June 2009

Fallon, Sally. Nourishing traditions the cookbook that challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats. Washington, DC: NewTrends Pub., 1999.

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