The fact that extra virgin olive oil is in many ways positive for health is proven by various studies, but very often these studies have taken into account the extra virgin olive oil used in raw form. Can the same thing be said about cooked extra virgin olive oil?
This is the question asked by researchers at the University of Barcelona who, with the help of colleagues from other institutions, published their findings in a study published in Antioxidants.
The answer is positive: olive oil maintains, although at a slightly lower level, its antioxidant characteristics even when cooked.
This oil is one of the main sources of fat in the Mediterranean diet. Its main characteristic lies in its unique composition relative to fatty acids and its relatively high content of antioxidant elements compared to other types of oil.
Among the best known antioxidant elements of olive oil are certainly polyphenols. As the authors of the same research specify, the effects of cooking on the polyphenols of olive oil have already been studied in the past but mostly “industrial” situations have been recreated, far from the reality and habits that can be found inside our homes.
In this study, unlike the others, the researchers have in fact simulated the cooking conditions of a normal domestic kitchen.
Specifically, they studied the effects of cooking time and temperature levels, from 120 to 170°, in relation to the degradation of antioxidants.
During cooking, the levels of polyphenols decreased by 40% at 120° and 75% at 170°, compared to the levels of raw oil.
The same cooking then seemed to have effects on individual phenols, including hydroxytyrosol, but not on the total phenol content.
In general, even after cooking, the level of antioxidants exceeded the parameters declared as “healthy” by the European Union. Basically, cooked olive oil, like the one that can be used during frying, continues to have properties, although at a somewhat lower level, of protecting the oxidation of LDL cholesterol particles, as Julián Lozano, the first author of the study, explains.