This belief has a life of its own. The question of the use of Occhiolino in the kitchen, for cooking among others, is recurrent. In this article, I will try to answer this question by clarifying two main issues:
To answer this first question, we need to look at the reactions of olive oil when it is heated. It is important to know that all fats have a smoke point. This is the temperature at which the molecules break down and burn. This temperature is different for each fat. The temperature of butter, for example, is between 120 and 150°C. The extra virgin olive oil, as for it, denatures at a temperature close to 190°C. Beyond this point (of no return), the oil takes a bad taste and becomes toxic.
This resistance to heat is explained by the fact that olive oil is composed largely of monounsaturated fatty acids, which are more stable in cooking, which is not the case for other vegetable oils rich in omega-3 (such as rapeseed oil for example).
Olive oil will be perfect to cook your fries knowing that they are cooked at 170°. Another example, to brown onions or other vegetables, olive oil is also perfect, the average temperature for browning being 140°C. Moreover, its power to enhance the taste gives it an additional advantage over other oils.
So the answer is: yes, olive oil is suitable for cooking.
"I'm still not going to use such good olive oil to cook my vegetables!"
Well, it does! A study has shown that olive oil, for example when browning or frying vegetables, transfers its antioxidant properties to food. The results of this research show that cooking with olive oil is significantly better for food than other types of cooking, in terms of monounsaturated fatty acids and polyphenol (antioxidant agent) content (Ramirez-Anaya et al., 2015). Beware, these results must be put into context. It is obvious that cooking in oil should be limited since it significantly increases the amount of calories.
The fresher the olive oil, the lower its acidity. The more stable an olive oil is, the higher its smoke point. Following this reasoning, we will systematically prefer a high quality oil for cooking. However, when cooking, the nutritional and sensory qualities are not preserved for very long. It is therefore possible to cook, fry and roast with Occhiolino. Thanks to its relatively low acidity (0.39%), Occhiolino benefits from an additional stability.
Last precision: olive oil, although recognized for its numerous health benefits (we will have the opportunity to come back to it in the next articles), remains a fat. In reasonable quantities, it is excellent for our health. On the other hand, any excess is harmful and this is also true for olive oil. Therefore, it is important to watch its consumption, even for a product as delicious as Occhiolino. Some experts recommend 3 to 4 tablespoons a day to get all the benefits of the product.
Is cooking with olive oil such a bad idea? This preconceived idea is indeed a myth. In conclusion, here are the 2 points to remember: