One of the most controversial food fights of all times is the eternal war between olive oil and well, all the rest of the oils combined.
At Nutrient we carefully chose to include olive oil and rapeseed oil in our recipes and we got the science-backed facts to light the way to a healthier diet.
It comes from pressing whole olives and is linked to one of the healthiest diets, the Mediterranean diet. It is rich in monounsaturated fats, in fact, the predominant fatty acid in olive oil is a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, which is quite resistant to heating, making it a great choice when cooking under 392 degrees Fahrenheit, or even better, using it raw in salads, soups, and casseroles.
It’s also packed with antioxidants which have anti-inflammatory effects and along with the healthy kind of fats mentioned before, it may reduce bad cholesterol and lower risk of heart disease and stroke, according to the American Heart Association.
Now, let’s keep in mind that the scientific evidence suggests that to achieve these possible benefits, olive oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories or fats one eats overall.
The temperature where olive oil starts to break down (a.k.a the smoke point) is approximately 392 degrees Fahrenheit, so after that point the healthy polyphenols get damaged by the heating process, and the Omega Fatty Acids are destroyed along with the rich, distinctive taste of the olive oil while toxic compounds may be created and released through the smoke. So, it’s not just about the smoke point but the chemical degradation reactions and it’s by-products. In other words, high cooking temperatures promote a series of destructive chemical reactions such as hydrolysis, oxidation, and polymerization, forming compounds that in high concentrations can be harmful to our health.
So, what’s the best choice for the meals that require higher cooking temperatures?
Rapeseed Oil to the Rescue!
With a chemically stable profile, it makes a great option as a cooking oil. Moreover, its versatile and neutral taste palette does not interfere with the rest of the ingredients of any given recipe, on the contrary, it's an excellent carrier of flavor so it actually makes all the other flavors pop!
Rapeseed oil is produced from the seeds of the rape plant—a bright yellow flowering plant, whose culinary version was developed in the 1970s, by scientists to have much lower levels of erucic acid and higher levels of oleic acid (a.k.a canola oil). This was a crossbreeding which perfected the plant, not a genetic modification as commonly and falsely thought.
Compared to most of the other cooking oils, rapeseed oil has less unhealthy saturated fats while it’s still high in mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats omega 3, 6 and 9. Rapeseed oil has actually the best ratio of mega 3 and omega 6 and has more polyunsaturated FA than olive oil. Widely available and wallet friendly too, it can be used for roasting, frying or even replace butter in baking.
Its smoke point is approximately 446 degrees Fahrenheit which makes it one of the only unblended oils that can be heated to high frying temperatures and not spoil its antioxidants, character, color or flavor.
So, as in most things in life, the answer to the oil arguments is somewhere in the middle.
Different oils are more suitable for different food preparations and cooking techniques.
There are processed olive oils suitable for frying as there is extra virgin rapeseed oil that is perfect for salads and dressings but should not be used for frying or high-heat cooking in the same way that we shouldn’t be using any type of extra virgin oils to cook with.
So, it all comes down to the cooking techniques and the reason why we are using each type of oil in out culinary endeavors.
In our recipes we use olive oil in the salad dressings, we love to drizzle it over our veggies with a generous dose of lime juice and spices and we even bake with it when the cooking temperatures don't overcome the 392-degree smoke point.
As for rapeseed oil? It's our trusted go-to oil when the recipe calls for sautéing and cooking over high heat to seal in all the flavors.
So, the only choice you need to make is which recipe to try out tonight, sit back, relax and enjoy a healthy, nutritious meal with a side of science.