Used predominantly in Mediterranean cooking, olive oil has become extremely popular across the world. Containing monounsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids and antioxidants, olive oil offers several health benefits. Is it safe to fry with olive oil?
Is It Safe To Fry With Olive Oil?
But we have often heard that it is unsafe to cook and fry with olive oil because it is not stable and when heated, olive oil oxidizes, which makes it harmful to the body. However, this is not true. In fact, olive oil is among the best oils for frying. Read on to know more.
What Is The Smoke Point Of Oil?
When you’re pan-frying or deep-frying, the oil that you use should be able to withstand the high temperatures required for frying and must not break down quickly, as this will affect the flavor of the food and also smoke up the kitchen.
The smoke point is essentially the point at which oil starts degrading and the flavor starts changing.
Can You Use Olive Oil For Frying?
Well, the short answer to this is “yes”. The best oil for cooking, sautéing or frying should be low in polyunsaturated fats because when the molecules are heated, they oxidize quickly and turn rancid.
So, it is a better and healthier option to opt for oil containing monounsaturated fats that offer greater stability when heated to high temperatures.
Typically, the temperature of the oil when pan-frying must be 248°F (120°C), while for deep frying, the oil should be at around 320°F – 375°F (160°C – 180°C). However, extra virgin olive oil has a smoke point of 410°F (210°C), which is significantly higher than the temperature required to fry food, making it perfectly safe to use for frying.
Olive oil has a medium to high smoke point that exceeds the temperature required for frying. Further, the oleic acid and other compounds contained in the olive oil protect it from undergoing any structural changes or breaking down even when heated at high temperatures, while preserving the nutritional value better compared to other oils.
Why Is Olive Oil Better Than Other Oils For Frying?
Olive oil is ideal for frying and in fact, it outperforms other types of oils for the following reasons:
High Smoke Point
Around 75% of olive oil comprises monounsaturated fats, which makes it stable and allows it to withstand higher temperatures. As mentioned earlier, olive oil has a smoke point of 410°F (210°C), which makes it ideal and even safe for frying.
When you consider other types of cooking oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats such as sunflower oil, rice bran oil, corn oil, canola oil, soybean oil, etc., they oxidize when heated at very high temperatures and release free radicals that are harmful to health and can cause various diseases such as cardiovascular disease, dementia and cancer.
Heat Does Not Affect The Nutritional Value Of Olive Oil
Olive oil is loaded with polyphenol (a type of antioxidant) that protects the oil from oxidation. The high heat needed to fry food does not change the olive oil’s chemical composition and hence keeps all of the nutrients in the oil intact.
Can Be Good For Health
Not only does olive oil taste better, but it is also healthier compared to other oils. The olive oil improves the flavor of the food by forming a crust on the food’s surface and preventing the oil from penetrating the food.
Further, the food that has been fried in olive oil has a significantly lower fat content compared to those fried in other types of oils, making olive oil a healthier option, especially for weight control.
Tips For Frying With Olive Oil
As discussed above, frying with olive oil is not only safe but healthy too and here are some tips that can take your dishes fried in olive oil to the next level.
- The fresher the olive oil, the higher the smoke point, which means that the oil can withstand higher temperatures. So, it is always a good idea to purchase fresh olive oil from a reputable manufacturer.
- While extra-light and regular olive oil are among the most cost-effective options for frying, if cost is not a limiting factor, then you could consider using extra virgin olive oil for frying.
- Before adding your food into the oil, make sure that the oil is hot enough. This will help to form a crust on the food and prevent it from absorbing a lot of oil, making it healthier.
- Using olive oil can help to infuse an earthy, warm and nutty flavor into your dishes. However, you can add an extra dash of flavor by infusing the oil with red chili peppers, basil, etc.
- Avoid reusing the olive oil that you have used for frying more than once, as reused oil can cause serious health risks.
In conclusion, the idea that olive oil cannot be used for frying is a myth. In fact, as you can see, not only is olive oil very versatile and flavorful, but it also withstands heat well and is among the most stable, safest and healthiest options compared to other cooking oils, making it perfect for frying.