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What Is The Smoke Point Of Olive Oil?
There is a common notion among users that we should not saute, fry, or sear foods with olive oils due to their low smoke point and instead rely on other oils that are much more stable and have a higher smoke point.
Olive oil is then left for cooking recipes that demand reduced heat, or you can simply toss it into a salad. But this is nothing more than a common misconception. Contrary to popular belief, olive oil (nor Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)) does NOT have a reduced smoke point!
But why does the smoke point matter? What is the smoke point of olive oil and how does it affect the way you cook food? Read on to find out!
What Is A “Smoke Point”?
The oil smoking point is considered one of the most important factors in cooking. The smoke point of cooking oil is the temperature at which the oil stops glistening/shimmering and starts smoking or burning. You may even see a bluish smoke emerge from the oil.
Why does the oil start smoking? This is because when the oil is exposed to higher heat levels, its compounds can become unstable and start to break down.
Consistent exposure to this heat can lead to your oil burning up and even leading to a rancid, unpleasant flavor in your food. Unless you want a burnt flavor in the food you are cooking, you should always cook below the smoke point.
The Science Behind “Why” The Smoke Point Matters
The smoke point of an oil is vastly important. Not only can it impart a bad flavor to your food but also because of the chemical changes that occur in the oil itself, which may be harmful to the consumer.
In particular, when an oil is heated past its smoke point, it may begin to break down and release harmful chemicals and fumes as a result. The production of toxic aldehydes in the form of cooking fumes is a major concern that can lead to mutagenic and carcinogenic effects in the body. Even reheating the same oil again and again, as in the case of deep frying, can produce toxic compounds.
Olive Oil Smoke Point
Contrary to what you may have heard, olive oil tends to have an outstanding smoke point! However, the quality of results depends on the type of olive oil you use. Unprocessed, unrefined oils such as Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) are the golden choice and offer a significantly higher smoke point.
Usually, when oil is heated, even when it has not reached its smoke point, it may lead to the destruction of the oils’ compounds and the formation of harmful carcinogenic chemicals. This is not the case for EVOO. In fact, studies have proven that when EVOO is heated to temperatures over 350°F for over 36 hours, it shows incredible stability.
There is also a major concern related to heating oils and the potential loss of nutrients as a result. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, again, does not lose most of its nutritional properties even when heated up.
But why does this happen? The answer lies in the science of oxidative stability.
Olive Oils Oxidative Stability
Oxidation occurs when oils are heated at higher temperatures, which triggers a series of chemical reactions involving oxygen in the air. This oxidation can degrade the overall quality of your oil and give it a rancid flavor and smell in return. Therefore, a common deduction would state that you should choose a cooking oil that can resist the oxidative process.
While oxidation occurs to some degree in all oils, it tends to occur more widely in oils containing polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). That’s not all; oils that contain antioxidants show a reduction in oxidation chain reactions. This is because antioxidants will oxidize themselves to slow down the oxidation chain reaction, although they cannot stop it completely.
Exra Virgin Olive Oil Is Unique!
As you may have noticed, olive oil seems to have both qualities. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is mainly composed of monounsaturated fatty acids and is rich in antioxidants. These monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidant plant phenols provide a dual protective effect to the olive oil and, therefore, reduce the oxidative chain reaction in oils, even when heated!
So, can you fry with olive oil? YES! And we HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT AS A HEALTHY ALTERNATIVE TO VEGETABLE AND SEED OILS!!!!
Smoke Point Is Not All That Matters
Experts now believe that smoke points may be important, but it is not all that matters. This is because the smoke point is not only triggered by heat. The smoke point of your oil also depends on various external conditions. These include oxygen exposure, light, moisture, and the number of antioxidants in the oil.
Instead, you should also consider cooking oil stability, as is the case with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Since EVOO is richer in polyphenols and antioxidants that fight the formation of free radicals through oxidation, it is a much more stable cooking oil.
What Is The Smoke Point Of Olive Oil Conclusion:
In short, Extra Virgin Olive Oil vs olive oil performs better. EVOO is a highly stable cooking oil that can be heated as high as 410°F. It also shows incredible oxidative stability owing to its rich antioxidants and polyphenol content. Always make sure you choose EVOO as a healthy substitute with the highest quantity of polyphenols and antioxidants. Make sure your EVOO has been packed in dark, airtight containers to reduce the natural oxidative reaction from light exposure.
Shop Our Line of Extra Virgin Olive Oils (EVOOs) Below!