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Q. What is the healthiest oil to cook with?

A. Relative to other oils, canola (made from the seeds of a yellow-flowered plant) and olive oils are rich in monounsaturated fats—the kind that help reduce “unhealthy” LDL cholesterol and boost “healthy” HDL cholesterol. But new research suggests that virgin (and extra-virgin) olive oils—those produced purely by mechanically pressing the oil from olives, with no chemical processing—have an edge: antioxidants called polyphenols. Naturally found in olives (in red wine and green tea too), polyphenols mop up free radicals before they can oxidize LDL (oxidation makes LDL even more damaging to arteries).

In a three-week study of 200 men published recently in Annals of Internal Medicine, those who consumed just under two tablespoons a day of high-polyphenol virgin olive oil in place of other dietary fats registered larger increases in “good” HDL cholesterol and fewer markers of oxidative stress than men who consumed the same amount of “ordinary” olive oil, which had a very low polyphenol content. Chemical refining processes remove some polyphenols from “ordinary” olive oils (often labeled as “pure” in the U.S.) and other cooking oils, says Maria-Isabel Covas, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a researcher at the Municipal Institute for Medical Research in Barcelona, Spain.

Bottom line: Virgin olive oil doesn’t just taste better than plain old “olive oil,” it’s better for you too. (Great justification for splurging on a pricier product, no?) That said, any olive or canola oil is a heart-healthy choice—assuming you use it as a substitute for (not a complement to) saturated fats in your diet. If cost is a concern, go ahead and use refined olive oil or canola in cooking and save the virgin oil for cases that call for a high-impact fruity flavor (dipping bread, dressing salads, accenting soups).
—D. Milton Stokes, M.P.H., R.D.

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COMMENTS POSTEDsort icon

You should use Canola because it's mostly GMO, which means it's the future and is engineered to be superior.

Anonymous

05/28/2015 - 12:28pm

reading the article, I've recently spoken with a nutrition expert who states that olive oil is NOT a good oil to cook with because it denatures with heat and can become a carcinogen

Anonymous

05/22/2015 - 8:43am

reading the article, I've recently spoken with a nutrition expert who states that olive oil is NOT a good oil to cook with because it denatures with heat and can become a carcinogen

Anonymous

05/22/2015 - 8:41am

I remember back in the 90's my nutrition instructor told us coconuts have a big content of saturated fat .since then I have not touch a coconut , how come is healthy now days.

Anonymous

03/09/2015 - 9:04pm

If you shop @ Trader Joe's, they carry a great EVO. They also stock one made in California that is less expensive than imported. If you feel you just have to have imported EVO, make sure its Italian. If you read labels you'll find many brands press olives from everywhere from Morocco to Sardinia. Just as a sidelight, this website gets the award for the most intrusive and obnoxious "pop-up" adverts I've ever seen.

Anonymous

01/20/2015 - 8:53pm

buy a good non stick pan and don't use oil, I do eggs on medium heat and pour a little boiling water in the pan and cover with a lid. steams the egg perfectly. most meat has its own fat content even chicken so why add additional oil/fats?

Anonymous

01/19/2015 - 7:20am

So confused!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Some say not to heat EVOO! Just to use on cold items like salads etc. Please give us the truth! Thank You!

Anonymous

12/29/2014 - 1:14pm

Everyone that mentioned Canola/Rapeseed oil is bad, are correct. Avoid it! Read About GMO foods and try to avoid them. I work with the general public and see alot of people getting cancer. I believe we need to watch what is in our food. Please people educate yourselfs.

Anonymous

11/02/2014 - 4:42pm

The information in this article is not from the latest research. Canola oil comes from rapeseed oil which was developed for industrial use and is not for human consumption. It has been refined to remove the erucic acid, but refinement methods can be faulty. Best to stay away from it.

Also there is no mention of virgin coconut oil which is one of the best for health. I even take 2 tablespoons a day as a supplement for its many health benefits.

Anonymous

10/12/2014 - 10:52am

Canola is one of the top three GMO foods, so it's no good unless it's organic. Coconut oil and EV olive oil are excellent.

Anonymous

10/04/2014 - 12:24am

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