Advertisement

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.

Download a Free Mediterranean Diet Cookbook!

COMMENTS POSTEDsort icon

HI

My question;

I read one of your articles of cooking oil;

we know we should heat up oil above its smoking point ,and some oil are fragile to even just light and oxygen ,but what we don't know is ,each oil to what temp had it been heated during its refinery ?

We prefer refined oil 'as its raises dramatically its smoking point, but which already been gone above its smoking point in order to achieve its higher smoking point,

Is light and extra light olive oil or refined grape seed oil just as harm full as any refined vegetable oil?

Sincere

Star stern

Anonymous

10/09/2012 - 11:35pm

You are far better off using natural organic butter than canola oil.

Anonymous

09/22/2012 - 11:29pm

How about in baking? Is it better to use canola oil than butter? I hope somebody responds to my question.

Anonymous

09/16/2012 - 10:05am

For all of you out there that says your doctor is warning you about using oils to cook with, especially oils like coconut oil, safflower, sunflower, or any other oil that's high in saturated fat. I think its time for you to stop listening to your doctor - There is no correlation between a high fat diet and heart disease. There is no correlation between high cholesterol and heart disease. There is so much more to cholesterol than we understand or could ever understand. There are some great doctors out there doing amazing things in the field of research that have a better grasp on this stuff. You're GP/PCP has absolutely no clue.

Anonymous

09/09/2012 - 3:03pm

best oil to cook in - bacon grease! Hands down. 45% monosaturated High Oleic Acid Fat - and it tastes great too. See also, duck fat.

Anonymous

09/09/2012 - 2:55pm

I came here for advice and to learn something, now I'm more confused than ever!

Anonymous

08/26/2012 - 7:07am

What ever we all think everyones body is as different as fingerprints. We dont and will proberbly never know why this is. That is the only half logical explanation why some people die from smoking and some can smoke all their lives and will not suffer. This includes so called identical twins. This is very similar as twins who may suffer some trauma in their lives and while one may be unaffected, the other may be depressed or in many cases get mosr serious mental health problems. So if your lucks in so be it. But remember whatever we eat or drink, you may still be knocked over by a bus or suffer greater pain by having a really nice mother-in-law, good luck all. Les Popely York. A very inteagent fool who is brilliant at spelling

Anonymous

07/26/2012 - 11:28am

Never use olive oil for frying! It can releases radicals if it burns higher than its smoke point.

Anonymous

07/21/2012 - 8:35am

Extra virgin olive oil is the one i use it's really good i use it to fry anything I eat.

Anonymous

07/17/2012 - 6:43am

Grape seed oil is equivalent nutritionally to olive oil but has more vitamin E, a more neutral flavor, and a high smoke point. All around better for cooking and some prefer it for salad oil, dipping etc.

Anonymous

07/09/2012 - 9:05am

20 minute dinner recipes
Advertisement
more smart savings
Advertisement
20 minute dinner recipes
Get a full year of EatingWell magazine.
World Wide Web Health Award Winner Web Award Winner World Wide Web Health Award Winner Interactive Media Award Winner