Rachel Ray coined the term “EVOO”, referring to her love of extra virgin olive oil. She used it in everything from salad dressing to sautés. The result was a widespread obsession. Olive oil is a healthy cooking oil, packed with nutrients, has a bold savory flavor and is fairly versatile – but only when you get the good stuff. That $10 bottle you bought at your local grocery store – it’s most likely not the good stuff. In fact, there is a pretty good chance it isn’t even pure olive oil.
The market for olive oil in the US alone is $700 million dollars. A while back, a report surfaced, detailing some discrepancies in the olive oil industry.
A number of the large, well known brands were found to have mixed cheaper, lower-grade oils in with their extra virgin oil. Two-thirds of the imported brands tested in the study didn’t meet the chemical standard requirements of olive oil either.
This is not to say that all olive oil is “lying”, but quality really is key. When you buy a low quality olive oil, the price may be right, but you might as well be cooking with any low-quality vegetable oil. The lower the price, the more likely the oil has been blended with mysterious ingredients. Some cheaper oils even add artificial coloring to mask the additional oils blended in.
One of the benefits of olive oil is its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, but both of these are lost when your oil is blended or has oxidized. Oxidization occurs when the oil contains high levels of free fatty acids, or when it hasn’t been handled/stored correctly.
When oil goes rancid, its smoke point decreases. Smoke point is the temperature at which an oil can be cooked before it begins to degrade, lose its nutritional value, and actually start to become dangerous to ingest. You should never heat an oil past its smoke point.
Some people believe that you can use olive oil for high heat cooking, but that’s not always the case. If your oil is a low quality blend and is oxidizing rapidly before you even get it home, the smoke point will be significantly lower than a pure, high quality, EXPENSIVE olive oil. Most extra virgin olive oils claim a smoke point of between 330-350 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t be surprised if the actual smoke point is 5-20% lower than this.
The solution is to be highly cautious about the quality of your olive oil. Research your source, and do not assume that because it is a well-known brand, the company is transparent about their product. You also might consider swapping out olive oil for avocado oil. Here’s a quick overview of why:
Benefits of Avocado Oil
- The nutritional quality of avocado oil is on par with that of quality olive oil – full of monounsaturated fats and a good omega-3 to 6 ratio.
- Avocado oil has a much higher smoke point that any other oil. It is naturally refined at low temperatures, never using chemicals/solvents or other dangerous extracting methods and the result is a clean, mild tasting, 500 plus degree smoke point oil perfect for everyday use.
- The high smoke point of the oil means that you can do all your medium-high heat cooking with out even coming close to reaching the smoke point. A stovetop stir-fry can reach temperatures around 400 degrees – well below the level when the oil starts to degrade and produce toxins.
- Naturally refined avocado oil is free from impurities and coupled with its high smoke point, is more resistant to the natural oxidation process all oils are succumb to. This gives it a longer shelf life and guarantees that the product will deliver all the health benefits it claims – antioxidants, phytonutrients and omega’s – all while tasting great and enhancing your food (even baked goods!)
- Other high heat cooking oils can be contaminated with dangerous chemicals from the refining process. Some come from genetically modified plants that are not even safe for human consumption in their natural form. Most high heat cooking oils on the market today are heated to very high temperatures to extract the oil, killing any nutritional properties that may have existed