CHOOSE THE BEST

It is Safe to Cook with Olive Oil

15 October 2015 Uncategorized

I need to make a correction to what I have taught in recent years. I teach my patients and healthy heart program students that saturated fat, contrary to public health directives over the last few decades, is a stable kind of fat and moderate amounts of it are perfectly healthy. In fact recently the United States Department of Agriculture and Health Human Services have proposed new guidelines that remove limits on consumption of dietary cholesterol and saturated fat. Common sources high in saturated fat are animal and dairy fat like butter, the fat in meat and coconut oil. In my book, in the chapter on fat i discuss the various health benefits of saturated fat.

Vegetable oil, on the other hand, is rich in polyunsaturated oil, which is highly unstable. For many decades now, consumption of vegetable oil, such as corn, cotton seed, saflower and Canola oil has been encouraged on the false basis that it is a healthier choice. However, that has been an error all along. The unique chemical properties of polyunsaturated oil (multiple double bonds – see images in Read this if you have a Heart ), make it prone to oxidation and it can contribute to further oxidation when ingested. This type of oil is destabilized and oxidized more rapidly when it is heated up when it is used in frying (reference).

What about the very popular olive oil/ it is touted as healthy. Olive oil is rich in different types of fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids. This type of fatty acid is indeed somewhat less stable than saturated fat, which could lead to the belief that, heating it up when used in frying, would destabilize it and could potentially lead to oxidation as well.

However, I was mistaken and need to amend my stance, logic aside, studies in which olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil, demonstrate stability and no damage. Apparently olive oil contains compounds that protect the monounsaturated fatty acids from oxidation (reference).

So when it comes to choose among butter, ghee, coconut oil and olive oil, perhaps the deciding factors are cost or flavor but there is no need to be concerned about stability.

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