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Extra Virgin Olive Oil – can it be used for cooking?

Extra virgin olive oil is an unrefined oil packed with antioxidants and heart healthy monounsaturated fatty acids which make it an ideal choice for salad dressings. There is a lot of discussion about which oils are better suited for cooking and we are commonly asked whether extra virgin olive oil should be avoided due to its ‘low’ smoke point.

A smoke point relates to the temperature that the oil starts to smoke and break down. When this happens it can affect the nutrition and flavour of the oil and the dish you are preparing. Also reaching the smoke point can damage the antioxidants and the structure of the beneficial fats.

The smoke point of oil generally becomes an issue when deep frying food and that oil is saved to be used at a later time to minimise waste.

Contrary to popular belief extra virgin olive oil is not only suitable for salad dressings, with a smoke point of 190-215ºC. it is suitable for most types of cooking including baking therefore if you like to spray your pan or your food with extra virgin olive oil for non-stick cooking then there is no reason to avoid it. As long as you are not deep frying, there is no reason to exclusively use one type of oil. A range of oils can be used depending on the dishes prepared. For example some Asian dishes are better with sesame or peanut oil or the occasional coconut oil.