If you’ve been keeping an eye on food trends over the last few years, you may have noticed that the world of oils has been going through quite the roller coaster in the press. We’ve seen the rise of canola oil as “the world’s healthiest oil,” followed by an outpouring (no pun intended) of studies demolishing canola’s fame by illuminating all of its fake, toxic compounds. Soy oil, safflower and sunflower oils, and peanut oil have seen a similar downfall. But one oil you never hear too much about one way or the other is olive oil. This sneaky little bottle seems to get shoved to the side in the health food debate. But with options for a good Paleo drizzle fading fast, might olive oil be our answer? Or should we be pushing it away with canola and safflower in one great big no-thank-you?
IS OLIVE OIL HEALTHY?
The concern around it is related to its potential for oxidation. I.E., the oil’s structure begins to deteriorate, especially when exposed to high heat, left in bright light, or kept warm for long periods of time. Oxidation is a process that leads to the production of toxins within the oil. If we’re eating that oil, we’re ingesting the toxins.
That doesn’t sound too great!
On the other hand, it is full of beneficial nutrients. It is one of the best sources of antioxidants you can find. Some of these antioxidants, like oleocanthal, have been shown to act like nature’s own ibuprofen in reducing inflammation. While some other compounds in olive oil help our bodies to combat diseases. This is mostly true of real, extra-virgin olive oil, as other types (lite or refined, for example) are often mixed with canola or other oils that reduce these benefits and add toxins to the mix. If you’ve been able to snag a real bottle of extra virgin; You can also expect a good dose of vitamins E and K – you’ll get about 75% of your daily value of each in a single serving. Olive oil definitely sounds like it has some benefits too. So, how can we decide whether these benefits outweigh the dangers of oxidation?
Thankfully, it has also been a hot topic among Paleo experts, so they’ve looked deep into the subject to find an answer.
WHAT DO OTHER PALEO EXPERTS SAY?
Kelsey Marksteiner says: “Extra-virgin olive oil is perfectly safe to cook with. It’s a great oil to eat both in taste and health and shouldn’t be avoided. However, it’s not the only healthy fat out there! You should always consume a variety of healthy foods, fats included.”
Mark Sisson says: “Let’s put it to rest. Olive oil, especially good quality virgin olive oil with all the phenolics intact, is decently resistant to heat-incurred oxidative damage and a great addition to your diet.”
IS OLIVE OIL PALEO?
While olive oil is Paleo and does stand up fairly well to heat. It is still best and most nutritious when cooked at low to medium temperatures, or when not cooked at all. So grab that bottle of goodness and drizzle some on your next salad – it’ll do your body good.