Food & Cooking

Healthy Compounds in EVOO Still Present After Exposure to Heat

New research confirms the key components in extra virgin olive oil survive temperatures used in most domestic cooking.

Mar. 6, 2020
By Paolo DeAndreis

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The most healthy com­pounds found in extra vir­gin olive oil do not dis­ap­pear when the oil is used for cook­ing, accord­ing to new research pub­lished in the sci­en­tific jour­nal, Antiox­i­dants. The impli­ca­tion may have an impact on future nutri­tional guide­lines.

Researchers from the Uni­ver­sity of Barcelona focused on eval­u­at­ing how the attrib­utes of olive oil change when it is used for sautéing in a house­hold kitchen.

After cook­ing at a mod­er­ate tem­per­a­ture, (polyphe­nols and antiox­i­dants) were still in the oil and in con­cen­tra­tions high enough to meet the E.U. para­me­ters, mean­ing this oil should be used for cook­ing.- Julián Lozano Castel­lón, project coor­di­na­tor

While the health prop­er­ties in raw extra vir­gin olive oil are well known, its qual­i­ties and char­ac­ter­is­tics when used for cook­ing have sel­dom been inves­ti­gated.

New evi­dence from the study showed that the polyphe­nols do not dis­ap­pear in the process of being cooked. The antiox­i­dant qual­i­ties were some­what reduced, but still met the Euro­pean cri­te­ria for healthy food.

See more: Cook­ing with Olive Oil

Along with their col­leagues in Madrid and São Paulo, the Barcelona-based researchers stud­ied extra vir­gin olive oils, sautéed it at 120 and 170°C (250 and 340°F).

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The con­tent of polyphe­nols decreased by 40 per­cent at 120°C and 75 per­cent at 170°C — to lev­els of antiox­i­dants that still qual­ify the oil as healthy under Euro­pean Union stan­dards, Julián Lozano Castel­lón, the project coor­di­na­tor, told Olive Oil Times. We decided to do the exper­i­ment with those two tem­per­a­tures because they are usu­ally the low­est and the high­est tem­per­a­tures used in a domes­tic sauté process.”

Inter­est­ingly to the researchers, cook­ing the olive oil for a longer time did not sub­stan­tially change the out­come.

It did not affect the total amount of phe­nols,” Lozano Castel­lón said. It is true that some sim­ple phe­nols were affected by this vari­able, such as hydrox­y­ty­rosol or hydrox­y­oleu­ropein agly­cone, whose con­cen­tra­tion did decrease with longer cook­ing times.”

How­ever, the researcher high­lighted that the results came from short cook­ing times of less than one hour.

Nor­mal cook­ing times are short — in our study, the longest time was 60 min­utes — which chem­i­cally is a really short period of time,” Lozano Castel­lón said. If some phe­no­lic com­pounds were affected by time [exposed to the heat], it means those com­pounds are very labile, even though the pro­por­tion in which time affected those com­pounds was small com­pared to the effect of the tem­per­a­ture.”

The research con­firmed the result of pre­vi­ous stud­ies, which have found extra vir­gin olive oil to be the safest veg­etable oil with which to cook at high tem­per­a­tures and helps absorb the phe­no­lic com­pounds found in veg­eta­bles when cooked together.

Extra vir­gin olive oil is not only rec­om­mended for its fatty acid pro­file, but also for its more than 200 minor com­po­nents, many of them with antiox­i­dants prop­er­ties,” Lozano Castel­lón said.

In this study, we proved that after cook­ing at a mod­er­ate tem­per­a­ture, those minor com­po­nents were still in the oil and in con­cen­tra­tions high enough to meet the E.U. para­me­ters, mean­ing this oil should be used for cook­ing.”





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