Yesterday I chronicled my not so harrowing experience cooking with coconut oil for the first time, and I promised to discuss the reasoning behind cooking with a new (to me) fat. The DH and I usually cook with olive oil, but there is a growing body of evidence indicating that olive oil may not be the nutritional godsend we’ve been led to believe it is.
Apparently olive oil begins to break down when it is heated much above 200°F-250°F–which is not very hot at all. George Mateljan of The World’s Healthiest Foods explains that “oxidation of nourishing substances found in extra virgin olive oil, as well as acrylamide formation [an air-borne neurotoxin, among other nasty things] can occur at cooking temperatures close to 300°F.”
Did you catch that? We’re all trying to be healthy, so we’re cooking with EVOO like everyone tells us to, and we’re inhaling toxic fumes?! Yuck! Click here to watch a video with George explaining the process. You can literally see the oil change from a beautiful green to clear as it heats up and oxidization begins.
Olive oil, especially the extra virgin variety, just isn’t designed to be cooked with at high temperatures. To retain the benefits of olive oil, it seems better to use it to finish foods, drizzling it over your salmon after it is cooked, using it to dress a salad, etc.
So, to avoid eating oxidized oil, it’s recommended that one only cook with fats that can handle the heat: coconut, avocado, high oleic safflower, etc. But as good child of the 90’s, I remember when movie theaters were forced to stop using coconut oil to pop their popcorn because of its high saturated fat content. So why is this healthy food guru advocating the use of saturated fat?