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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

Agreed with the pop-up ads, very annoying. I'm off to a different website....

Anonymous

04/16/2014 - 3:25pm

POINTLESS TRYING TO READ ANYTHING ON THIS SITE BECAUSE OF THE POP UP ADVERTS, VERY BAD. TRY OTHER SITES THAN THIS GARBAGE

Anonymous

04/03/2014 - 11:57am

too confused to give a comment either way.
someone told me recently that canola oil is one of the worst.
smaxie

Anonymous

03/15/2014 - 10:59am

I am totally confused by the comments. I just want to know what type of oil should I be putting into my body? What is going to be good for me? I'm not particularly worried about GMO but I DO worry about insecticides, pesticides and processing. BTW, the reason I'm not overly concerned about GMO is that nature and human kind have been genetically modifying everything since time began. That's why we have so many different types of apples, dogs, horses and corn is no longer a grain that looks more like wheat. That being said, I do think racing to genetically modify anything is a bit risky in terms of the environment and giving the birds and bees time to adapt.

Anonymous

02/07/2014 - 1:43pm

Still in the dark here good oil bad oil. Can we just find one and stick to it.(You know the saying not broken donot try to fix it).

Anonymous

01/23/2014 - 11:03pm

You can say what you won't about the two oils canola and extra virgin olive oil but in my experience I cook everything in extra virgin olive oil. Never had a problem from over heating it will last for 3 or 4 times in a small fish fryer with no problems. I have never cooked with canola oil so I'm no sure how good it is for you, but extra virgin olive oil I know is really good for you. Because before I started cooking with it I would get pains in my chest and shortness of breath wouldn't last for a long time it would come and go. It mainly happened when I was tired. Then when I started cooking with extra virgin olive oil it completely stopped happening. I'm not saying canola oil wouldn't have done the same but I know extra virgin olive oil worked for me. I fry potatoes fish and a lot of other kinds of meats in it all the time. I have had no problems with over heating at all. I don't have a doctor's degree but I do have experience both oils may be good for you but I know extra virgin olive oil is. This is to all those people out there saying that olive oil is not that good for you. Your wrong it is. So stop discouraging people from using it. With your crazy apenyon because you could be hurting someone.

Anonymous

01/04/2014 - 1:10am

what a waste of time; apparently no research was done by the editors. Changes my opinion on reading your magazine.

Anonymous

12/30/2013 - 1:27am

Confusing... I beleaved that Canola oil is the best for frying.
Then I found out from another soarce that it's not healthy, olive oil is the one.
So much info... So little help.

Anonymous

12/29/2013 - 10:14pm

My Italian great grandmother lived to be in her 80s ... She said her secret was Italian olive oil ... that is all

Anonymous

12/29/2013 - 10:14pm

Between this article and the comments, I have learned nothing here !

Anonymous

12/29/2013 - 10:11pm

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