Myth Burster: Olive Oil, Best Oil for Frying and Cooking

live oil is extremely healthy. It is the “default” healthy fat, loaded with beneficial fatty acids and powerful antioxidants. Olive oil has also been a dietary staple for some of the world’s healthiest populations.

Fried eggs on a frying pan with olive oil
Fried eggs on a frying pan with olive oil

One of the most common myths perpetrated on the Internet is that while olive oil is healthy, it should not be used for cooking or frying. The belief is that somehow the high heat used in cooking or frying makes olive oil unhealthy.  However, this belief is not consistent with historical uses of olive oil in Mediterranean cuisine, nor with a wide body of published research.

Olive oil is not only safe for cooking, but it is recommended by scientists and olive oil experts for high temperature frying! The notion that extra virgin olive oil should never be heated or used for cooking is not supported by research.

Oxidized fats, which are primarily derived from polyunsaturated oils such as corn and soybean oils, are linked to inflammation and various diseases. Studies have been conducted comparing virgin olive oil with sunflower oil (a polyunsaturated oil) and cooking oils where antioxidants were added. These antioxidants, which are present naturally in high quality olive oils, protect against oxidation stress and inflammation when high heat is applied to the oils.3 In fact, the antioxidants present in olives are so powerful in resisting oxidation due to heat, that they are added to other cooking oils to make them more stable when cooking.

The olive oils with the highest levels of antioxidants, and therefore the most heat resistant to high-heat cooking or frying, are generally extra virgin olive oils. It is derived from the first pressing of the olives. Unfortunately, many olive oils available in the market are adulterated and mislabeled extra virgin olive.


Virgin olive oil can safely be used for cooking and even deep frying. The oil can be reused more than once, and the oil does not seriously degrade in normal household cooking. Olive oil is sensitive to sunlight, however, and is therefore usually packaged in tinted bottles.

Extra virgin olive oils are a far better alternative when shallow frying. It is commonly thought that extra virgin olive oil smokes at a low temperature. However, it is a fact that the lower the free fatty acidity (FFA) i.e. better oils, the higher the temperature at which the oil will begin to smoke.

Olive oils can be reused a few times. However, each time an oil is heated and cooled it will lose some of its aroma, flavor, freshness and health giving polyphenols and tocopherol.

Because olive oil is high in antioxidants and Vitamin E, it has quite a bit of natural protection from oxidation damage.

The smoke point of an oil is the temperature at which it starts to degrade in the heat and produce visible smoke. When the oil is heated, freer fatty acids form in the oil, so the smoke point actually goes down the longer you cook it.

The main reason you may not want to use it, is that heating it too much can have adverse effects on the flavor. The belief that olive oil oxidizes and goes rancid during cooking is a harmful myth that scares people from using this incredibly healthy fat.

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