We're all about cooking with good, healthy coconut oil (or lard, or duck fat) here at Paleohacks. But when I wander round the Net, I am surprised at how often recipes that claim to be paleo tell you to cook with olive oil.
Has anyone else noticed this? Is the message just not getting out that olive oil can only be consumed cold, and breaks down when heated?
I totally agree that olive oil is suboptimal, but the problem isn't it "breaking down." Given that there are so many good sources of animal fat to cook with, there's never any reason to cook with olive oil, but I'd still classify it as quasi paleo. If you had limited other sources of fat, getting a lot of calories from olive oil would still be a wise move.
Olive oil is mostly MUFA rather than SFA of course, but this shouldn't lead to too much of a difference in terms of cooking. After all, animal fat is often around 50% MUFA. The real problem with olive oil isn't the MUFA, it's the omega 6. By comparison, the much vaunted lard, is more MUFA than SFA and more omega 6 than olive oil. Olive oil also has a higher smoke point, drastically so if the ligter, rather than virgin oils. That said, cooking with olive oil, if you're going to consume it is a waste, if only because of the loss of the (possibly) beneficial polyphenols.
I think that the 'saturated fat is bad' statement is so ingrained in our psyches, many people - and yes, I guess some people professing to be paleos - think olive oil is the healthy option.
It takes a lot of guts to go against the grain. We hear so much in the media about the dangers of trans-fatty-acids and saturated fats, leaving the likes of olive oil innocently floating around some healthy greek salad like a light from heaven. The only fat I heat is lard, period - this seems the safest option in this very complex short-and-long-chain-fat world.
I have not seen olive oil being used in recipes around the net Glenn, but then I usually use my own recipes or cookbooks unless it is very obscure (which usually means it is cooked in lard or goose fat).
I just had a look around the net Googling: "paleo recipe fried olive oil" yeah, you are right, there are loads!!! I am surprised, that's quite shocking.
Perhaps we should start a recipe database here at PHs that uses purely paleo ingredients?
I use grass-fed beef tallow, or ghee, in a cast iron pan and I rarely see any smoke develop. I'll occasionally use coconut oil but the particular kind I bought it only for "medium heat" which I always exceed.
I have to say, I haven't heard that (heated) olive oil is a bad thing.
I'm more of the belief that too much oil (in general) is a bad thing. If I can get away with not using oil to cook with, great! If I feel that something I'm cooking is going to require some sort of fat, I tend to go for olive oil in extremely small quantities (less than 2 tbsp).
If I can work it out, I'll cook off meat first in a pan, save the fat, and then cook something else in the same pan -- usually accompanying vegetables. Saves me on having to dirty a second pan, and it's usually pretty tasty.
(I have found this does NOT work with ground turkey followed by a three-egg omelet. THAT was a disaster that put me in the doghouse with the wife for fouling up a pan.)
I know lots of people will do half and half olive oil and butter (raises the smoke point) But it's not much of an issue is there if its a lower heat application... but yeah olive oil has some good flavor so I don't see the point, I use it more in marinade/dressing stuff than anything, I suppose you could base a decent homemade mayo off it too, every store bought one is soybean oil based...
If its a high heat application like stir frying/searing.. than you want to use a high smoke point oil.. and use a NON-Nonstick pan (above 350-400 they start giving off really bad stuff, higher and it burns your eyes/throat/nose and inhaling burnt teflon is not fun .. I was a boyscout and teflon pan + open fire was a very very bad trip, but yeah short version is at that temp, the pan can be way worse than the oil.. think a good eats with A.B covered it too)
I do agree. There is literature to support that olive oil is more 'frail" and loses some of it's beneficial value by being heated to a high temp. Personally, i still use a mid-grade olive oil (Trader Joe's) to cook with and a high quality olive oil (Frantoia) to serve with. i also use virgin coconut oil. It is worth noting that you must be very careful with the quality of coconut oil (as all oils). Please see this attachment by Cocoon Nutrition.
Most Coconut Oil Sold in the United States is Refined, Bleached and Deodorized
Most coconut oil sold in America is made from copra. Copra is the dried meat of the coconut which is left in the open to dry. Mold may grow on it, flies may land on it, and the meat turns brown and rancid while it dries. The oil industry does not worry about this, as they will "clean the oil up" at the end to remove these unfavorable constituents. Once the meat of the coconut has dried and shriveled it is easily removed from the shell and the oil is pressed out. Many companies use solvents to help in extracting the oil from the meat. Once this crude oil is produced and the solvent "reclaimed", they then add lye to the oil. This step in the refining process will drop out free fatty acids, some of the Vitamin E, as well as other nutrients and components. These items drop out as soaps to be filtered. Then they put the oil through a bleaching process which will turn it from the brown rancid color to a nice white/clear color. This process also eliminates more vitamin E and other nutrients. And then lastly they deodorize the coconut oil by bubbling gas through the oil at high temperatures while pulling the vapors off with a vacuum. This will eliminate the bad taste and smell of the crude oil it came from. In the end you have a tasteless, odorless, coconut oil with only fatty acid chains remaining "seasoned" with traces of solvents and residues from the refining process. If the coconut oil you have used in the past does not taste like coconuts, even though it was claimed to be organic and cold pressed, then you can be sure it is not a virgin coconut oil, and most likely it is a refined, bleached, deodorized coconut oil.
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