Should I Cook with EVOO? - Blog #28
Hello everyone! Welcome back to another Friday blog. Today I wanted to delve into cooking with EVOO and the effects of heating the oil. We all know by now EVOO helps to boost your immune system, prevent many diseases including, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neurological, some cancers, fatty liver, metabolic syndrome and other prevalent conditions based on its polyphenol profile. It has long been thought that you shouldn’t cook with high heat/fry with EVOO due to the degradation of the polyphenols and production of trans fats/carcinogens.
“Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), the main source of fat in a Mediterranean diet, displays a singular fatty acid composition with a higher content of phenolic compounds and other antioxidants than other edible oils. Its health benefits are mainly attributed to these minor components, above all to simple phenols and polyphenols.” Researchers wanted to look at the Mediterranean diet with respect to how EVOO is used with food, including roasting, sautéing, deep-frying as well as drizzling raw as a finishing oil over the food. A new 2020 study in Barcelona wanted to look at domestic sautéing with EVOO, simulating a home kitchen, where light and oxygen are not controlled. They looked at temperature, time and the resulting effects on the phenols using a moderate-level polyphenol Hojiblanca EVOO. The oil was heated either for a short or long time, mimicking a domestic process, and polyphenol content was then analyzed. “Temperature degraded the polyphenols of EVOO during the sauté cooking process, whereas time had an effect on some individual phenols, such as hydroxytyrosol, but not on the total phenol content. The polyphenol content decreased by 40% at 120 °C and 75% at 170 °C compared to raw EVOO. (4) Conclusions: Cooked EVOO still meets the parameters of the EU’s health claim.” So, for us “home-chefs”, that is 248 °F and 338 °F.
Culinary heating can diminish minor components of EVOO, such as polyphenols and antioxidants. In addition, lipid oxidation or pro-oxidant formation (trans fats) can occur during high-heat cooking. “Nevertheless, EVOO polyphenols have been shown to reduce the heat-induced formation of undesired compounds, such as the cancerogenic heterocyclic amines, and the formation of acrolein and hexanal. Finally, the polyphenols can act as lipid-derived carbonyl scavengers.” Okay, let’s break this down. Higher temperatures do degrade some of the polyphenols, however, a significant amount of the polyphenols are retained PREVENTING the formation of carcinogens (trans-fats). The oil protects itself!!! Genius!! In the study, the oil wasn’t used to cook food, but was just heated to normal cooking temperatures for varying time frames. However, another recent study found food cooked in EVOO is imparted with additional antioxidants with a significant amount remaining intact at temperatures reaching 220 °C or 428 °F. Furthermore, EVOO “can be heated to frying temperatures multiple times without creating trans fats.”
So, the higher polyphenol count, the higher temperature and longer you can cook with it safely. This is amazing news! Now, I do a lot of sautéing in an iron skillet. I usually add a finishing drizzle of high-polyphenol EVOO, as do most on the Mediterranean coast. This adds a boost of deliciously fresh polyphenols to the food right before consumption! We love to have a side of fresh tomatoes drizzled with EVOO and topped with flaked sea salt (full of trace minerals) and cracked pepper. Now, tomatoes have the very powerful antioxidant lycopene. A recent Harvard study revealed the antioxidant lycopene reduced prostate cancer by 21% and that consuming 7 servings per week of tomatoes/tomato sauce reduced heart disease, cataracts and macular degeneration by 30%! The American Cancer Society claims lycopene is twice as powerful as beta carotene. Clinical trials reveal EVOO greatly increases the absorption of lycopene. Now, you crush and sauté that tomato (releasing more lycopene from the cell matrix) with EVOO, garlic, add pasta, Parmesan and drizzle more EVOO and you have an amazing quick dinner and have released even more lycopene!! I have lots of other ideas on how to add EVOO to your foods to get those magical polyphenols.
Take a 2 Tablespoon shot with your breakfast, or drizzle on your oatmeal, your salad, hummus or tomatoes. Add it to a smoothie, soup or chili. It’s amazing drizzled on just about ANYTHING!! The properties in high polyphenol EVOO are unequaled by ANY other oil. It goes a long way to protect us from a heart attack or stroke, boost our immune system and allow a long and healthy life.
So, the answer is an emphatic YES to cooking with EVOO! The higher polyphenol the better!! Don’t forget a finishing drizzle!
So, until next time my friends, drink, drizzle, digest high polyphenol EVOO, eat fatty fish, drink lots of water, get plenty of sleep, get a good pre/probiotic, exercise your body and mind. #EVOO