By Beth Lipton, Health.com
Everyone knows olive oil is great for your health and a staple of the Mediterranean diet. But even though it’s now found in most kitchens, it’s still steeped in mystery and confusion. Read on for some of the biggest mistakes people make with olive oil, and how to use it correctly.
You buy the “light” version to save calories
All olive oils have roughly the same amount of calories and fat (about 120 calories and 14g fat per tablespoon). “Light” refers to the color and flavor of this oil, which is highly refined to make it more neutral than other types of olive oil.
You’re afraid to cook with the extra-virgin stuff
It’s true that extra virgin olive oil has a lower smoke point than other types of olive oil and some other fats—that is, the temperature where oil begins to smoke and impart an unpleasant odor and flavor (peanut oil is 450ºF and grapeseed is 445ºF, for example. For more, check out this chart on Serious Eats). Extra virgin olive oil has a smoke point around 410ºF, according to The Science of Good Food, so it’s perfectly safe for sautéing at medium temperatures. Extra virgin is the purest form of olive oil, and contains the most health supportive oleic acid so there’s no need to use it only for salad dressing.