Olive oil is a highly versatile oil which has numerous applications ranging from culinary and religious to medicinal and cosmetic industries. It has incredible versatility when used in food dishes because it adds both nutritional value and flavor to them. The oil can be consumed both raw and be used for frying, which means it is used in both raw salads and cooked dishes. It has an incredible nutritional profile which further enhances food flavor. However, there are rumors surrounding its usage as food. Following are some of the myths surrounding olive oil and scientific proof which debunks them.
Debunking Olive Oil Myths with Reality
1. Myth: Olive oil loses its health benefits once it has been heated.
1. Reality: Olive oil in reality is excellent for cooking. It lends the dish an excellent Mediterranean taste. While it is already recommended not to overheat oils, it also happens to have a higher smoke point, allowing chefs to cook food in higher temperatures there. However, heating oils at high temperatures ends up evaporating their esters which ruins the taste and fragrance. Yet, the nutritional value remains constant in all cases. If you are going to use it for frying, then use pomace olive oil which is suitable in both price and purpose for it.
2. Myth: Heating olive oil will significantly increase its saturated and trans-fat content.
2. Reality: It is natural for organic oils to undergo slight oxidization which will hydrogenate them slightly when exposed to high temperatures when frying. Olive pomace oil and virgin olive oil have a high monounsaturated fat content, which renders it highly resistant to the processes of oxidation and hydrogenation. Owing to these facts, it not only resists these changes but remains quite healthy for consumption.
3. Myth: Using olive oil for cooking reduces the overall nutritional value.
3. Reality: Heating food at high temperatures naturally reduces its nutritional value. This is why vegetables are best preferred raw, or in other cases steamed which uses less heat. Frying reduces their nutrition the most, though it is not much. It is not the oil but high temperature which reduces food nutrition. The best way to add olive to vegetables when making a raw salad and drizzling it over or adding it to steamed vegetables.
4. Myth: I can make margarine at home from olive oil.
4. Reality: No. You cannot make olive oil margarine at home. Factories have proper, industrial scale equipment which passes hydrogen gas through oil heated between 250 to 400 degrees Centigrade with platinum or nickel as catalysts. In short, you cannot convert a cis-fat into a trans-fat in your homes.
5. Myth: Olive oil does not evaporate.
5. Reality: Oils are also subject to evaporation. They will lose mass in the course of a few days to several weeks, depending on what the oil has been sourced from. The majority of cooking oils are classified as fixed oils which have high molecular weight and are hence resistant to it. However, they will evaporate, albeit slowly, with some taking even years. Their residue is a sticky varnish-like substance, which is often visible at the side of pans where heat has rapidly accelerated the process.
6. Myth: Olive oil burns very easily as compared to other cooking oils.
6. Reality: Olive oil actually has a higher fire point compared to other cooking oils e.g. sunflower, canola, etc. It has a boiling point of 298.89 degrees Centigrade which is much higher than its smoke point between 195.56 and 204.44 Centigrade. It has a flash point of 315.56 Centigrade, at which point it will turn to vapor and ignite, but not burn consistently. Most people confuse boiling oil with the oil actually boiling itself, while in reality it is the water content which is boiling as the oil itself has exceeded 100 Centigrade. However, the boiling points for various oils (extra virgin, plain, pomace, etc.) are different and heating them too much often causes rancidity, which affects the taste.
7. Myth: You cannot deep fry with olive oil.
7. Reality: Olive oil is more expensive than other cooking oils, hence is not often used for deep frying, especially in the fast food industry. Cheaper alternatives are available which are used for maximizing profit. However, it is actively used in homes for frying but it does have a unique flavor due to which some people prefer to use other oils for frying. It is recommended to cook with olive pomace oil as it is filtered of particulates, has a higher boiling point and does not oxidize easily which leads to rancid flavor. It also does not have micro-particles such as those in extra virgin olive oil. These unfiltered particles do provide their own flavor but contribute towards lower boiling and is hence not suitable for the high temperatures of deep frying.
8. Myth: Using olive oil for frying will damage my utensils.
8. Reality: It is not the oil but raising the temperature very high which causes the cooking utensils to be stained. The oil forms a tough varnish like coating which is hard to remove.
9. Myth: Extra virgin olive oil has more nutritional value than plain olive oil.
9. Reality: Extra virgin olive oil is derived by cold pressing olives and extracting their oil without using any chemical derivatives. It contains micro-particles and contains extra antioxidants and is more flavorful. Other than that, there is no nutritional difference between the different forms of love oil.
10. Myth: Filtering can cure olive oil rancidity.
10. Reality: Olive oil needs to be chemically refined in order to treat rancidity due to oxidation. Purchase a new batch if your oil becomes rancid.