You have likely heard that olive oil shouldn’t be used for cooking. But, do you actually know the facts?
First, you need to know a little bit of the science behind what makes a good cooking oil. Different oils have different amounts of fats, some have more saturated fat, others have more mono- or polyunsaturated fat. It is the composition of these fats that determine whether it is a good cooking oil or not. The number of double bonds that the fat has (I know, a bit too much science), the more susceptible to damage it is and the worse it is for our health.
Since polyunsaturated fats (safflower and sunflower oil) have lots of double bonds, they are the most prone to damage. Saturated fats (coconut and palm oil) have no double bonds so are the most stable. Monounsaturated fats (extra virgin olive oil, canola, and peanut oil) only have one double bond, so are also highly resistant to damage during cooking.
Heating the oil above its smoke point increases the likelihood of oxidative damage and the production of potentially harmful compounds. Different olive oils have different smoke points and that’s because it depends on the quality of the oil. However, extra virgin olive oils such as Cobram estate have a smoke point around 190-220°C which is actually above the temperatures reached in home cooking methods.
Several studies have confirmed the stability of extra virgin olive oil during cooking, putting the oils through rigorous measures including repeated heating for long periods of time and at extremely high temperatures.
So overall, good quality extra virgin olive oils are safe to use for cooking and are also great for your health!