The health benefits of olive oil are well known, especially from the studies of the Mediterranean diet and its use of extra virgin olive oil and it’s high antioxidant properties. However, recent research has shown that extra virgin olive oil retains its healthy properties when used for cooking, according to Yahoo UK.
The study, published by the journal Antioxidants, is the collaborative work of a team of researchers from the Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Sciences of the UB, the Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition Networking Biomedical Research Centre (CIBERobn) and the University of São Paulo.
Extra virgin olive oil is the main source of fat in the Mediterranean diet and shows a unique composition of fatty acids with a higher content of antioxidants than other edible oils. Its benefits for the health are mainly linked to these compounds, named polyphenols.
For the study, researchers simulated the cooking conditions of a domestic kitchen. The aim was to see how using extra virgin olive oil to sauté affects the polyphenols. Researchers studied the effects of temperature and the time taken in the degradation of the antioxidants.
Results show that during the cooking process, the content of polyphenols decreased by 40 per cent at 120 ºC and by 75 per cent at 170 ºC, compared to the levels of antioxidants in raw oil. The cooking time affected individual polyphenols, but not the total content of the phenols. The levels of antioxidants still fulfilled the levels required by the EU to be still classed as healthy.
This strengthens the idea of Mediterranean gastronomy being beneficial for our health, not only for its food but also for techniques used in cooking it.