Which is the best olive oil for cooking?

Which is the best olive oil for cooking?

It may be that owing to the wide variety of products it is harder to find out which is the best oil for cooking. Here are the keys for you to find your way.

As olive oil is one of the essential elements of the Mediterranean diet it has always been a basic product in Spanish kitchens. Traditional wisdom proclaims its high quality and its healthy properties.

As consumers however we may at certain times be influenced by fashions such as the use of coconut oil or by price; olive oil is more expensive than sunflower oil or pomace oil.

Why is olive oil the best oil for cooking?

Its nutritional value makes the difference compared with other oils. The fatty acid composition of oil varies slightly according to the climate, the soil, the olive variety, etc.

Obviously not all olive oils are alike. In general terms however we are concerned with a concentration of 17% of saturated fatty acids, 71% of monounsaturated fatty acids, and 11% of polyunsaturated fatty acids. In contrast sunflower and coconut oil contain high percentages of saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids respectively.

The nutritional value and the distribution of the types of fatty acids have a close relationship with our health. On being cooked oil reaches high temperatures. During this process its molecules oxidise and the feared free radicals, which are bad for our cells, may appear.

The higher percentage of monounsaturated fats in olive oil makes it more stable when high temperatures are reached. It is therefore recommended for deep frying rather than other oils.

For all these reasons the Spanish Federation of Nutrition (Federación Española de Nutrición, FEN) strongly recommends olive oil as the best oil for cooking and as part of a healthy diet. If possible our first choice should be extra virgin olive oil which ensures a better selection of olives and mechanical extraction without the use of chemical processes.

Although it is true that you can consume olive oil as you think best, a picual olive oil such as Fuenquesada, an early harvest extra olive oil, is best enjoyed raw.