Researchers Conclude Frying With Olive Oil Is Safe

Researchers again debunked the belief that frying using olive oil is unsafe. Findings suggest that frying with olive oil is not more harmful than using other oils, and may even be the safer option.

By Maja Dezulovic
Jul. 6, 2017 08:35 UTC

Researchers at the University of the Basque Country in Spain stud­ied olive, sun­flower and flaxseed oils for their alde­hyde con­tent after heat­ing the oils to 190℃. The con­clu­sion once again debunked the myth that fry­ing with olive oil is unsafe.
See Also:Dispelling the Myths of Frying with Olive Oil

It is a wide-spread belief that fry­ing food in veg­etable oil can be unhealthy because of the toxic chem­i­cals (called alde­hy­des) pro­duced in the process. Aldehydes are organic com­pounds con­tain­ing a car­bon-oxy­gen dou­ble bond, which are formed nat­u­rally in the human body in small amounts. Consuming an excess of alde­hy­des is thought to con­tribute to the symp­toms of dis­eases like dia­betes.

The results showed that the polyun­sat­u­rated (sun­flower and flaxseed) oils pro­duced higher amounts of alde­hy­des at a faster rate than monoun­sat­u­rated (olive) oil. The olive oil cre­ated fewer alde­hy­des and also at a later stage of the heat­ing process. The rea­son for this is thought to be because polyun­sat­u­rated oils con­tain more regions for chem­i­cal reac­tion com­pared to monoun­sat­u­rated oil. Comparing the results, it is safe to say that olive oil is actu­ally the best option for fry­ing.

Experiments con­ducted for the BBC show Trust Me I’m a Doctor con­firmed this by sug­gest­ing that heat­ing monoun­sat­u­rated fats like olive oil, but­ter, and goose fat pro­duce lower lev­els of alde­hy­des than heat­ing polyun­sat­u­rated fats and oils.

However, it is impor­tant to note that we know lit­tle about what a too high dose of alde­hy­des in humans con­sti­tutes. Thus far, con­clu­sions have only been drawn from ani­mal stud­ies, and there is a lack of data from human stud­ies that can be drawn upon to sup­port the­o­ries.

Experts argue that the poten­tial risk also depends on the qual­ity and fresh­ness of the oil, and how much it is heated. It can only be said that fry­ing foods in shal­low amounts of olive oil for short peri­ods is unlikely to lead to expo­sure to alde­hy­des that is in far greater amounts than what the body would nor­mally pro­duce and it does not pose a greater risk than fry­ing with other oils. It has also been sug­gested that olive oil’s high antiox­i­dant con­tent may even reduce the amount of pos­si­bly harm­ful chem­i­cals pro­duced dur­ing heat­ing.

Any oil that is heated beyond its smoke point will con­tain harm­ful chem­i­cals. However, this type of heat­ing (or burn­ing) will also sig­nif­i­cantly affect the taste and smell of the oil. Frying foods usu­ally does not get the oil to that point.

Frying foods, in gen­eral, is known to be the least healthy method of prepa­ra­tion, how­ever using olive oil may be safer than using other veg­etable oils.


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