Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Why It's Healthier Than Other Cooking Oils?
It's general advice for people watching their waistline or trying to eat healthier to watch the amount of oil they use when cooking. But that doesn't mean we should eliminate oil from our diet entirely. Because extra virgin olive oil in particular can have many benefits for our health.
Numerous studies have shown that the consumption of olive oil - especially extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) - can have many different benefits for our health. For example, the Spanish Predimed study (the largest randomized controlled study ever conducted on the Mediterranean diet) showed that women who ate a Mediterranean diet with extra virgin olive oil had a 62% lower risk of breast cancer than women who recommended it would eat a low-fat diet.
Experts who have since reviewed several scientific studies looking at the Mediterranean diet and its effect on chronic diseases conclude that a key reason why the diet protects against breast cancer is the extra virgin olive oil. There is also evidence that extra virgin olive oil may protect against type 2 diabetes and possibly even Alzheimer's.
So what makes extra virgin olive oil better for us than other types of cooking oil? The answer lies in its composition.
In addition to its fat, extra virgin olive oil also contains many natural substances, such as polyphenols. Polyphenols occur naturally in plants and have been linked to many health benefits such as B. reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cognitive disorders. Studies also seem to show that a key reason extra virgin olive oil is beneficial to our health is due to the polyphenols it contains. Polyphenols are believed to have many benefits in the body such as B. the improvement of the intestinal microbiome.
Research shows that the polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil are linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. When researchers stripped the polyphenols from extra virgin olive oil, they found that it didn't also protect the heart from disease. It is believed that one of the heart health benefits of extra virgin olive oil is that its polyphenols prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. When cholesterol reacts with oxygen and becomes oxidized, it damages blood vessels.
The reason extra virgin olive oil contains so many polyphenols is because it is made by simply crushing olives. More processed versions of olive oil — like light olive oil or spreads — don't contain as many of these polyphenols. This is because their production requires more processing, resulting in most of the polyphenols being lost.
Other edible oils
Most other cooking oils like sunflower oil or canola oil are made from seeds. Seeds are very difficult to oil, so they must be heated and the oil extracted with solvents. This means that most of the polyphenols in seeds are lost during production.
It is sometimes claimed that canola oil (also known as canola oil or vegetable oil) is a healthy alternative to extra virgin olive oil. While there's some evidence that raw canola oil (meaning it wasn't heated during cooking) may temporarily lower cholesterol, there's currently no evidence that it can lower the risk of high-cholesterol-related diseases -- like heart disease .
Of course, most of us use oils for cooking. But when an oil is heated to too high a temperature, it reacts with the oxygen in the air, breaking down the fat in the oil. This can lead to the formation of pollutants that irritate the eyes and are even carcinogenic. Canola oil is particularly susceptible to this process, known as oxidation, especially when used repeatedly in deep frying.
Polyphenols prevent fats from oxidizing, so extra virgin olive oil remains stable even when used at the temperatures required for shallow frying food. Since rapeseed oil and other oils like sunflower oil contain fewer polyphenols, the fats are not as well protected from degradation during cooking.
Another important reason for the stability of extra virgin olive oil is that its main fat type is monounsaturated fat. This is both a healthy fat and fairly resistant to oxidation. Monounsaturated fatty acids are also the main type of fat in canola oil. But unlike extra virgin olive oil, canola oil also contains fairly high levels of a polyunsaturated fat called alpha-linolenic acid. This is not very stable and is another reason why overheating canola oil is not a good idea.
Coconut oil is often recommended as a healthy oil. However, coconut oil is high in saturated fats, which can significantly increase low-density lipoprotein (or LDL) cholesterol (sometimes known as “bad” cholesterol). Elevated LDL cholesterol has been linked to cardiovascular disease, and there is evidence that the saturated fat in coconut oil increases the risk of heart disease.
One of the important messages about extra virgin olive oil is that it appears to be far more effective when consumed as part of a Mediterranean diet — which is typically high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, fish, and olive oil. This is likely because extra virgin olive oil and its beneficial polyphenols interact with other foods, including the vegetables eaten as part of this diet. The Mediterranean diet is associated with a lower risk of many chronic diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer's. This could make the extra price tag for extra virgin olive oil worthwhile.
Autor: Richard Hoffmann. Außerordentlicher Dozent, Ernährungsbiochemie, University of Hertfordshire.
Source: THE CONVERSATION