Let’s Talk: The Controversy of Olive Oil.


Let’s Talk: The Controversy of Olive Oil.

I think it’s safe to say that we all are aware of the olive oil craze and its benefits.  What I didn’t realize is that this topic can be quite controversial.  There are some that think cooking with olive oil is actually bad for you while others are out here literally taking shots of it as part of their morning routine, two extremes. So, I wondered what motivates one opinion versus the other and what the facts are behind both aspects.  This makes me wonder, which one are you part of? Do you put olive oil on everything, or do you think it’s a bad cooking oil? Either way, it’s completely up to you, which way to sway, of course, but at least you’ll have the facts after reading this, so let’s take a stab at it.                                                                                       

The reason some think that cooking with olive oil is bad for you is due to the common believe that once you apply a certain level of heat, oil begins to oxidize and become hazardous.  When oil hits its smoking point, the beneficial compounds start to degrade, even potentially forming heath-harming compounds.  Naturally, due to olive oil having a relatively low smoke point, the assumption is made that it will not cook as well as other oils such as Canola or Vegetable oil when cooking over high heat.  Believe it or not, there are many studies that do suggest the opposite.  Having concluded that both extra virgin olive oil and olive oil outperform the other oils even with its lower smoke point. The studies suggest that although olive oil may produce more fumes, thanks to its high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids which are resistant to heat, it continues to retain its nutritional value while resisting deterioration even when exposed to high heats.                                           

Others think that olive oil is literally the solution to everything health related, thanks to the growing popularity of the Mediterranean diet which incorporates olive oil in almost every dish.  Another thing that has grown in popularity is the consumption of olive oil before the thought of breakfast even creeps up, so much that “Olive Oil Shots,” are indeed a thing.  These shots or the consumption of olive oil all by itself is driven by the believe that this way of consuming it will improve your skin and reduce bloating while also offering all other nutritional aspects of the liquid gold.  However, there is no scientific data that supports the believe that olive oil needs to be consumed at this level to reap the benefits.  Taking a shot of olive oil or even just a full tablespoon of it doesn’t seem to give you an advantage over simply adding it to a salad or cooking with it.                                                                                                             

At the end of the day, we can all agree that olive oil does in fact have beneficial nutritional values which has led it to its popularity.  If you are afraid of using it to cook over high heats, use it in a salad instead but also find peace in knowing that there are scientific studies that confirm it keeps its nutritional value even when used to cook over high heat.  If you rather drink a tablespoon of it instead of using it to cook, then hey! You do you, boo but also find peace in knowing that by simply adding it to a dish instead of drinking it on its own you still reap the same nutritional benefits.          

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