Today I'll be answering a question from one of our readers: Is it safe to cook with olive oil, or can that create harmful trans fats?
From the perspective of integrative medicine, extra virgin olive oil (preferably organic 1st coldpressed) is one of the healthiest fats. It is a key element of the Mediterranean diet, one of the most healthful ways of eating that has been shown to reduce risk of heart disease and stroke. I use extra virgin olive oil every day in my food and cooking.
A key question is the smoke point of the oil, the temperature at which it starts to smoke and breakdown, creating free radicals. The smoke point of olive oil varies, between 300°F to 400°F. But in order to actually create trans fats, repeated heating above 400°F and cooling is required, like in a commercial fryer. If you're cooking at home you're not going to create trans fats from the olive oil.
However, you don't want to heat it to its smoke point because of the creation of free radicals. In general I use extra virgin olive oil for salads, sautéing, and similar lower temperature uses. I do not recommended for deep frying. I don't recommend deep frying anyway. For high temperature cooking applications I recommend coconut oil which has a very high smoke point, or ghee.
Please post your comments and responses!