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Food Myths Debunked: Cooking with Olive Oil Removes its Health Benefits

Olive oil is gaining in popularity as one of the healthiest types of fats available. Research has found that olive oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids, which are some of healthiest fats found in nature. Monounsaturated fats have been proven to be effective in the treatment and prevention of a variety of conditions, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, and even some types of cancers. In addition to these great health benefits, olive oil consumption has for years been touted as a great way to improve the quality and texture of skin and hair. But what is the best way to consume olive oil? Can it be used in frying and other methods of heat-cooking? Or must it be used only at room temperature? This article examines the truth behind the myth that cooking olive oil removes its health benefits.

Cooking with Olive Oil

Olive oil can, in fact, be used with high heat without the sacrifice of any of its nutritional content. Research has found that the compounds found within olive oil that make it so healthy can stand extremely high heat, as long as the oil isn't heated past it's smoking point. And this means that the temperature can get relatively high with little to no damage. In fact, even the most delicate olive oil won't reach its smoking point until 400 degrees Fahrenheit. What's more, the traditional, distinctive taste associated with olive oil has been found to mostly survive traditional cooking methods.

How to Choose the Right Olive Oil

When selecting an olive oil to cook with, determine how the oil will be used to find the one that best works with your meal. For example, if you are making a salad, fish dish, or other item that has a relatively light taste, choose a high quality extra virgin olive oil. The flavor of the fish or salad is not strong enough to take control of the entire dish, and therefore, if you use an olive oil that is too heavy, it will mask the other flavors and all you will taste will be the oil. In contrast, if you are making beef, pasta, or something similar, a middle of the price range, regular olive oil will do. Beef has a distinctive flavor and pasta dishes are typically strong enough to stand on their own--therefore, in order to still have some trace of the olive oil flavor, you will need an oil that is not so light, and can stand out a bit.

The Verdict

Hopefully this article taught you that you can, indeed, cook with olive oil without the fear that by heating it you will remove all of the health benefits. The next time you think about using olive oil in a dish, don't be hesitant! Turn on the skillet and pour the olive oil in! Your dish will taste great, and you'll receive many important health benefits.

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