Beware the Olive Branch – health hazards of cooking with olive oil

Why you should NOT cook in olive oil

Olives often conjur positive associations. Even that poor dove who shlepped a branch to Noah’s ark is associated with the olive branch, a peace offering and all good things. Do we know for sure that it was an olive branch? Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine would be drastically altered sans olives and their rich, aromatic, nourishing oil.

Great for salads

The polemic always rears its head when discussions about cooking with olive oil arise. Seductive cooking programs with chefs who are hard not to love for their generous smiles and culinary finesse, always sautee, fry and boil in olive oil. One program emphasizes that the olive oil used is made in Israel so that Israeli viewers will feel even more confident that it is the best oil for cooking. If you Google cooking in olive oil you will find many sites that advocate it as one of the best oils for cooking; or is it?

Olive oil is in fact an essential part of our nutrition. Extra Virgin is the best since it is from the first pressing and has the lowest acidity. This oil is wonderful for our digestive system, livers and general constitution but only when ingested cold or at room temperature; added to the dish, not the pot or frying pan. Naturopaths and practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine advise against heating or cooking with olive oil, due to its instability and inability to withstand higher temperatures, which break it down; thereby the oil releases toxic alkaloids that are harmful when ingested.

As a Holistic Health Therapist I can only advise against cooking with olive oil but all the media pressure to do so is formidable. Of late, someone asked me if there are any articles on this subject; I didn’t know since I learned from masters. However, undaunted, I rose to the challenge and conducted a search. Apparently a study was conducted in Spain and the abstract of this article was published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2002.

Oils that are good for all types of cooking are Peanut, Sesame and any refined cooking oil such as soy, canola, safflower, corn, etc.

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