Is frying with olive oil healthy?


Frying is a popular cooking method that adds a crispy texture and delicious flavor to various dishes. However, when it comes to selecting the right oil for frying, there’s a wide array of options available. Among them, olive oil stands out as a popular choice, especially in Mediterranean cuisine. In this article, we’ll explore the health and flavor aspects of frying with olive oil compared to other types of oils, helping you make informed choices in your culinary adventures.

1. Health Benefits of Olive Oil: Olive oil, particularly extra virgin olive oil, is rich in monounsaturated fats, which are considered heart-healthy. These fats have been associated with reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and promoting cardiovascular health. Additionally, olive oil contains potent antioxidants, such as vitamin E and polyphenols, which help combat oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. When used in moderation, frying with olive oil can be a healthier alternative compared to some other cooking oils.

2. Smoke Point and Stability: One crucial factor to consider when frying is the smoke point of the oil. The smoke point is the temperature at which an oil starts to produce visible smoke, indicating that it is breaking down and releasing potentially harmful compounds. Olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil, has a moderate to high smoke point, making it suitable for light to medium-heat frying. However, when exposed to high heat for an extended period, it may break down and lose some of its beneficial properties. For high-heat frying, refined oils like peanut oil or safflower oil with higher smoke points may be more appropriate.

3. Flavor Profile: Olive oil adds a unique and distinct flavor to fried dishes, which can be both a pro and a con depending on personal taste preferences. It imparts a fruity, earthy, and sometimes peppery taste to foods, elevating their overall profile. However, some delicate dishes may be overpowered by the strong taste of olive oil. In contrast, neutral oils like vegetable oil or canola oil allow the natural flavors of the ingredients to shine without altering their taste significantly.

4. Nutrient Retention: The frying process can cause some loss of nutrients in foods. However, the type of oil used can influence the extent of nutrient retention. Olive oil’s antioxidants, such as vitamin E and polyphenols, can help preserve certain nutrients during frying. Moreover, its monounsaturated fats may aid in enhancing the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins from the foods being cooked.

5. Moderation is Key: Regardless of the type of oil you choose for frying, it’s essential to remember that moderation is crucial. Fried foods, even when cooked in healthy oils, can be calorie-dense and should be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Consider incorporating other cooking methods like baking, grilling, or steaming to diversify your culinary repertoire and reduce overall oil consumption.

Is frying with olive oil healthy?

Frying with olive oil is generally considered to be a healthier option compared to many other cooking oils. Olive oil is a staple of the Mediterranean diet and has been associated with several health benefits.

Here are some reasons why olive oil is considered a healthier choice for frying:

  1. Monounsaturated fats: Olive oil is predominantly composed of monounsaturated fats, which are considered heart-healthy. These fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and increase good cholesterol levels (HDL), which is beneficial for cardiovascular health.
  2. Antioxidants: Olive oil contains powerful antioxidants, such as vitamin E and polyphenols, which can help combat oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.
  3. Stability at high heat: Extra virgin olive oil has a relatively high smoke point compared to many other cooking oils, which means it can withstand higher temperatures without breaking down and producing harmful compounds.
  4. Mediterranean diet: Studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet, which includes ample use of olive oil, is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and other chronic conditions.

However, while olive oil is a better option for frying, it’s essential to keep some considerations in mind:

  • Quality of the oil: Opt for high-quality extra virgin olive oil, as it undergoes minimal processing and retains more nutrients and antioxidants.
  • Moderation: Even though olive oil is healthier, frying in any oil adds extra calories and may introduce acrylamides, which are potentially harmful compounds that form when certain foods are cooked at high temperatures.
  • Reuse of oil: Avoid reusing oil for frying multiple times, as this can lead to the formation of harmful substances and increase the breakdown of beneficial compounds.
  • Balanced diet: Remember that the health benefits of olive oil come from its inclusion in a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other nutritious foods.

How can I contact gastroenterologist Dr. Zavos for an appointment?

Dr. Chris Zavos is a board-certified gastroenterologist and hepatologist, located in Thessaloniki Greece, and specifically in Kalamaria suburb, about 7 kilometres (4 miles) southeast of downtown Thessaloniki. His private office is at: Fanariou 8 street (near Aigaiou and Adrianoupoleos avenues), Kalamaria (Thessaloniki), Greece.

Thessaloniki International Airport is only 10 km away from his private office in Kalamaria and can be reached by taxi within 13 minutes from the airport.

Dr. Chris Zavos performs endoscopies at Bioclinic private hospital in downtown Thessaloniki (Mitropoleos 86 street).

You can contact Dr. Zavos at phone numbers: (+30)-6976596988 and (+30)-2311283833, or you can email him at Dr. Zavos responds to Greek and English languages.

Last update: 26 September 2023, 19:07


Gastroenterologist - Hepatologist, Thessaloniki

PhD at Medical School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

PGDip at Universitair Medisch Centrum Utrecht, The Netherlands

Ex President, Hellenic H. pylori & Microbiota Study Group