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The Best Type of Olive Oil for Your Health

If you have ever used a fine quality olive oil in a salad dressing or drizzled it over a warm winter stew, then you know how a good olive oil has the ability to brighten up any dish.

What makes an olive oil taste good? First and foremost: how it is processed.

  • If you buy virgin or extra-virgin olive oil at the store, you are purchasing oil that has not undergone any chemical treatment.
  • When oil is refined, this means that chemicals have been used to remove taste and to neutralize acid content.
  • Any oil that reads “pure olive oil” is typically a blend of virgin and refined olive oil.

Refined olive oil is considered to be of lesser quality than extra-virgin olive oil. Not only have the natural flavors of the olive been removed, but chemicals are used in its processing.

The grassy, sometimes fruity notes that a good olive oil can carry in flavor are desirable. It is also the mark of good quality oil.
Olive oil can be heart healthy when it is used correctly… But cooking with olive oil may do more harm than good to your health since olive oil will oxidize and turn rancid when exposed to heat.

Besides flavor, there are is another reason why you want to spend a little extra time locating good quality olive oil: your health.

Many people consider olive oil to be one of the healthiest oils available. And the research shows that olive oil is indeed heart healthy, when used correctly. Using olive oil correctly means that you understand its monounsaturated nature.

Olive oil is made up of monounsaturated fatty acids. A fatty acid is just another way of saying a fat molecule.

Because olive oil is monounsaturated, this means that it is not as delicate as flax oil or the oil from cold-water fish, which are polyunsaturated. However, as an unsaturated oil, it still will oxidize and go rancid under the right conditions.

There are several reasons why you do not want to cook with olive oil.

Unsaturated fats, whether monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, are most likely to oxidize under the right conditions. So what causes unsaturated fatty acids to oxidize? Three things:

  1. Light
  2. Air
  3. Heat

This is why extra-virgin olive oil has the potential to taste so delicious! Because it has been minimally processed and exposed to the least amount of light, air, and heat.

If your olive oil does not have flavor, then it has been overly processed, and it is most likely doing more harm than good in your body. Unfortunately, the same is true if you cook with olive oil.

Many people cook with olive oil because it is a “heart healthy” oil, but olive oil should not be used at high temperatures.

Cold Pressed or Ice Pressed?

You will find that the olive oil with the most nuance of flavor will also be the best for your health. Light, air, and heat can all potentially damage an unsaturated oil and affect its flavor.

“Cold pressed” is not exactly what you would imagine. When extra-virgin olive oil is cold pressed, this means that it is exposed to temperatures ranging from 35°-55° Celsius (95°-131° Fahrenheit). Cold pressing an oil decreases the yield, but it increases flavor and nutritional value. This is why cold pressed oils are generally more expensive on the market shelf.

“Ice pressed” is exactly as the name implies. Ice pressed olive oils are exposed to temperatures ranging from 0°-5° Celsius (32°-41° Fahrenheit). This production method almost entirely preserves both the flavor and the nutritional value of olive oil.

One “ice pressed” oil that has impressed us is Rallis Olive Oil: www.rallisoliveoil.com

Use fat to stabilize your moods and your energy levels.

Many of us know that certain fats are good for our bodies, especially olive oil.

But did you know that good quality fats can supply your body with a steady source of energy throughout the day? Most of us reach for carbohydrates when we are looking for energy. But a carbohydrate-rich diet ultimately leads to far more fluctuations in blood sugar than a diet that is rich in healthy fats.

So go ahead! Feel good about eating high-quality fats and know that by choosing the absolute best quality, you are protecting and nourishing your body.

What to Remember Most About This Article:

The way that olive oil is processed can make or break its flavor and quality. Virgin and extra-virgin olive oil have not undergone any chemical processing methods. A good quality olive oil will have grassy, sometimes fruity flavors.

Olive oil is made of monounsaturated fatty acids, meaning that it can go rancid and is not ideal for cooking. Light, air, and heat will cause olive oil to oxidize; olive oil should not be used at high temperatures.

If olive oil does not have any flavor, then it has likely been over processed and will do more harm than good to your body. Olive oil also has the potential to harm your health if it is used in cooking. When used correctly, olive oil is a healthy fat that can boost your energy and stabilize blood sugar better than eating carbohydrates.


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  • Angie

    I like to blend a whole garlic in organic extra virgin olive oil & add a teaspoon of the mixture to my hot lemon water first thing in the morning. My questions are: does adding some boiled water to lemon juice, cold water & olive oil make the olive oil rancid? And is combining lemon juice, garlic & olive oil ok under BED food combining principles? I know this is an old thread, so I hope someone can help? Cheers :)

  • jane hamilton

    i use goose fat as an alternative to cooking with coconut oil, or butter.

  • Dale E

    We have been happily frying eggs and popcorn in coconut oil. It is good to know that good olive oil is a bit spicy. I did not realize this was a sign of quality. I have never consumed coconut oil straight as food for energy, but will soon, Thanks!

  • Mike

    Yup coconut oil is best for cooking because it has a high smoking point. Coconut oil can be store up around 4 years before going bad. Real olive oil should last 2 years from the bottling date. You need a spicy strong flavored olive oil. I personally buy Louianna extra virgin olive oil. It is cold pressed olive that has this nice spicy fruity flavor to enjoy.

  • Charolette Jackson.

    My husband is a great fisherman and brings home fresh fish 3-4 times a week. We bake and broil a great deal of it, but we still like to fry some. I have been using a good quility olive oil but after this article,it seems that there may be one better.What do you recommend?
    Also,what is a good oil for baking?
    Yours truly,
    Charolette Jackson

  • Laura

    Raw oils are healthy. All oils lose their "health benefit" title when heated. The worst thing to do is cook using a low temp oil at high heat. I do most sautéing in broth and add oil at the end,if desired. Avocado oil is a good high temp oil...but again "healthy" is relative. Coconut oil has wonderful qualities when raw (in smoothies, etc.) and I love the taste. Because it's saturated (hardens when cooled) it has less of a chance of oxidizing during the appropriate cooking process. Coconut oil is made of medium chain fatty acid (MCT) not the unhealthy long chain fatty acids (LTC). Coconut oil is unique in that it doesn't need to go through your liver first to get packaged and stored until needed for use. Coconut oil bypasses the liver and gets used as an energy source immediately. This is why it's used in hospital IV treatments for critically injured, the very young or people with digestive problems. At least that's what I remember from school.

  • http://www.QiBounding.com Sylvia

    Awesome, Donna! I did not know that oil gets rancid when heating! Also I have never heard of ice-pressed oil before. I very much like how clear you structure your article, even with a "What to remember" section on the bottom. Really awesome. Thank - like always - for your good work! Sylvia

  • Laura Jaimes

    Well...Then...Which oil is good for cooking besides coconut oil????
    Thank you!!!

  • kd

    I use coconut oil for everything except salads or a rare occasion of bread or cracker dipping - then I use extra virgin, cold-pressed olive oil. The coconut oil is indistinguishable in most cooked foods - it depends somewhat on the quantity you use.
    Haven't heard of ice-pressed or the Rallis brand, Donna - thanks for the tip!

  • JDR

    If you want no coconutty taste, use expeller pressed coconut oil. It's quite bland and has most of the benefits of EVO CNOil.

  • margaret

    I use organic argan oil. I use it as a finishing oil over salads, vegetables, and meat (even use it over ice cream). I use either organic argan or coconut oil for frying and baking.

  • Shula

    I like cooking with coconut oil, but in some recipes I don't want the noticable flavor. What neutral oil do you recommend? What is the verdict on grapeseed oil?

  • Tami

    I am aware that you should not cook with olive oil, however, I have never found a better substitute for flavor when roasting vegetables. Any suggestions? I typically roast them in a 350 or 400 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes.

  • KATE

    Intrigued by everyone's comments - I have never cooked with coconut oil and wonder if it has a strong taste, therefore unsuitable as an all purpose oil?

    Does extra virgin olive oil lose health benefits when used in cooking - I have used olive oil for everything for years!

  • Genette

    Interesting article. From the questions that peoplehave listed it would have been better to expand the article to include the best oils to use for cooking and for noncooking uses.

    Thank you

  • Denise

    What oil is suggested for brushing over fish prior to baking?

  • LAURIE

    So, what do you recommend then?

  • Lucy8a

    good article ... I especially like the "What to Remember Most..." recap - wish all articles did that!

  • http://www.stelladeer.com Lia

    My family is Italian, so it's no surprise that we eat, drink and breathe olive oil-- and have all our lives. We use only organic extra virgin, use it "raw" for salads, for drizzling on bread, etc., on our skin, and every day to cook with. My father grew up in Italy and was a chef, and used ONLY olive oil in ALL of his cooking. My family, along with most who follow a Mediterranean diet, and those living in that area of the world, are MUCH healthier than the majority of Americans. As long as you do not exceed the smoke point, I believe olive oil is one of the healthiest oils you can consume.

  • Paul

    I love olive oil as a dressing for salad (couples with balsamic vinegar), and also drizzled on salmon (before baking). Wen frying, I always use coconut oil. Big misconception of coconut oil is the saturated fat, but that is misleading (thanks to the toxic vegetable oil industry - Ancel Keys). Coconut Oil has amazing health benefits and is great for cooking and frying. Be sure to getvthe good quality, unrefined extra virgin oil. I like Nutiva, but there are also other brands.

  • http://www.getbetterwellness.com Erin Chamerlik

    I like to cook with macadamia nut oil and unrefined coconut oil - these two really handle heat best.
    Organic butter/ghee also good at lower heat.
    Add olive oil to your dish at the end of cooking to get the flavor and health benefits.

    Grapeseed oil is high in omega-6's - inflammatory oils and just like the other poly seed oils, hexane is often used to extract the oil. Even if it is cold-pressed, GSO is over 70% poly, so should never be heated because it oxidizes and damages health.

  • Hannah Newman

    I have cooked with oliveoil for years...even deep frying frenchfries at regular intervals. It is an art like much of cooking. It is very obvious when it turns rancid or gets too hot. There is a distinct off taste and smell to the food. You can successfully cook with it at low temperatures...but just remember your average pan does not maintain a steady temperature and you must make constant adjustments so that it does not overheate. Coconut oil is a great alternative. Please do not think you can buy a blended oil olive or otherwise...this is never good.

  • http://www.naturalhealthctr.net Nancey Savinelli

    Donna supports the work of Dr. Peter D'Adamo, who wrote, "Change Your Genetic Destiny", where you take a test to decide which of the diet types best support your immune system. I use it in my Naturopathic practice and I see amazing results with my clients. Sometimes Coconut Oil is the best for cooking. With others it is not and Macadamia Nut Oil is best. Both do not turn rancid or oxidize when heated. Olive oil is best for drizzling. Many olive oils can legally contain other oils, so be aware. The cleanest I know of is Bariani, which I use, yet there are others. Healthy eating.

  • Lea

    If you want a comprehensive and scientific break down of fats and oils I highly suggest reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, or you can get the info at westonaprice.org (the Weston A Price Foundation).

  • Emerald

    Yes, please point us to an article which lists all oils that are good to cook with. Is peanut oil ok?

  • lauren

    I also was wondering, what is the best oil to cook with if olive oil is not good?? Thanks!

  • Chris

    Thanks for the info.
    BTW while we are on the subject of fats,
    What, besides olive oil, are good sources of healthy fats.
    Avocado? Nuts?
    Please advise

  • http://sandrajohnsonsam.blogspot.com Sandra

    Thanks for the does and don't s of olive oil, but how about coconut oil what are the does and don't s with that?

  • Meryl

    I have always heard that ghee is healthiest to cook with. I also thought olive oil was okay, but not according to this.

  • Lisa

    Grapeseed oil is also good for cooking.

  • Valerie Jones

    Donna has suggested cooking with coconut oil, it doesn't breakdown in high heat.

  • http://www.IntestinalFitnessLLC.com Gabrielle

    Thank you for the great info Donna! What oil do you suggest to cook with?

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