Olive oil, particularly extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), has been a staple in Mediterranean cuisine for thousands of years. Its rich flavour and numerous health benefits have made it a favourite for many home cooks and professional chefs alike. When it comes to cooking, many people might default to using inexpensive vegetable oil or other common oils, however extra virgin olive oil, is an excellent choice for the majority of culinary applications.
Today, we'll explore the reasons extra virgin olive oil is the best oil for cooking:
Extra virgin olive oil is made by cold-pressing fresh olives, which means it retains most of the nutrients and antioxidants found in the fruit. It is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), particularly oleic acid, which is known to promote heart health by lowering LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels and raising HDL ("good") cholesterol levels. Additionally, EVOO is packed with antioxidants like vitamin E and polyphenols, which help protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals and reduce inflammation in the body. While the vast majority of seed oils and other fats are a cause of inflammation, with all the follow-on illness and poor health that that brings, good olive oil is actually an anti-inflammatory and represents a crucial health-swap that can have a huge impact on one’s long term wellbeing.
The smoke point of an oil is the temperature at which it starts to break down and produce harmful substances. Contrary to popular belief, extra virgin olive oil actually has a relatively high smoke point, ranging from 350 to 410°F (175 to 210°C), depending on its quality and on whether it has been mechanically filtered (ie. not chemically refined) of solids such as olive skin and pulp or any debris. The rule of thumb is that the higher the quality of your olive oil, the higher its smoke point will be. Better quality olive oil is better for healthy cooking and makes it suitable for most cooking methods, including sautéing, roasting, and even shallow frying. Moreover, recent studies have shown that EVOO is more stable and resistant to oxidative damage at high temperatures compared to other common cooking oils like sunflower, corn, and canola oils. This is linked to the fact that olive oil contains antioxidants that protect it from damage, whereas none of the other common seed oils contain antioxidants in any amounts other than the smallest traces (if at all) that cannot have a measurable impact on human wellbeing.
Extra virgin olive oil has a unique and robust flavour that can elevate the taste of your dishes. Its fruity, peppery taste profile complements a wide range of ingredients, from vegetables and seafood to meats and baked goods. Whether you're drizzling it over a salad, using it as a finishing touch on a pasta dish, or incorporating it into a marinade, EVOO can add depth and complexity to your culinary creations.
Extra virgin olive oil is incredibly versatile in the kitchen. It can be used for cooking at various temperatures, as a base for salad dressings and sauces, or even as a condiment for dipping bread. Moreover, it's easy to swap out other oils in recipes for EVOO. All you need to do is simply replace the same amount of oil called for in the recipe with extra virgin olive oil, and you'll instantly enhance the flavour and nutritional profile of your dish. If you would like to swap out animal fat like butter for olive oil in recipes, use 75% of the amount of butter the recipe calls for in olive oil.
Finally, thanks to its high concentration of monounsaturated fats, extra virgin olive oil can help you feel fuller for longer, which may aid in weight management. It is also associated with numerous health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Additionally, incorporating EVOO into your diet can help improve brain function and protect against age-related cognitive decline.
All in all, extra virgin olive oil is the best oil for cooking due to its rich nutrient profile, high smoke point, exceptional flavour, versatility, and numerous health benefits. By incorporating this liquid gold into your daily cooking routine, you'll not only elevate the taste of your dishes but also promote a healthier lifestyle. So, the next time you're reaching for cooking oil, make sure to grab a bottle of high-quality extra virgin olive oil and experience the difference for yourself!
Opus Live Well provides top-notch extra virgin olive oil that has received numerous awards. It features a refined aroma and organic ingredients and is derived from a single type of olive and location, boasting high antioxidant levels. If you are looking for thebest olive oil in London, check out what we offer!