There are a few reasons why it is not recommended to use olive oil for frying:
Low smoke point
Olive oil has a relatively low smoke point, which is the temperature at which the oil starts to burn and smoke. The smoke point for extra virgin olive oil is around 375°F-400°F. Once olive oil reaches this temperature, the fats and nutrients in the oil start to break down and oxidize. This produces toxic compounds and free radicals that are unhealthy to consume. The low smoke point makes olive oil unsuitable for frying at high heat.
Loss of health benefits
One of the main health benefits of olive oil is its high content of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. However, many of these beneficial plant compounds are damaged when the oil is heated to high temperatures. This leads to a significant loss of the heart-healthy phenolic compounds found in olive oil.
Heating olive oil to its smoke point changes its flavor profile. It can impart a burnt, bitter taste to foods. The altered flavor is unpleasant and damages the original fruity, peppery notes that high quality extra virgin olive oil is prized for in dressings, drizzling and low-temperature cooking.
Risk of oxidative damage
As olive oil overheats, the fats break down and release free radicals. Consuming oils repeatedly oxidized at high temperatures may increase the risk of oxidative stress in the body. This type of damage at the cellular level has been linked to chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and neurodegenerative conditions.
Best oils for frying
The most suitable oils for deep frying have high smoke points and stable fats that resist oxidation. This includes:
- Refined avocado oil (smoke point 520°F)
- Peanut oil (smoke point 450°F)
- Canola oil (smoke point 400°F)
- Vegetable oil (smoke point 450°F)
- Palm oil (smoke point 450°F)
- Coconut oil (smoke point 400°F)
Safe uses for olive oil
While olive oil is not well suited for frying, it remains one of the healthiest oils to use in the following ways:
- Raw over salads, pasta, rice dishes, grilled meats and fish
- Light sautéing at low to medium heat
- Baking below 350°F
- Marinades and dressings
Frying with olive oil is not recommended because its low smoke point and unstable structure make it unsuitable for high heat cooking. Heating olive oil to frying temperatures strips away many of its health benefits and produces an unpleasant flavor. For deep frying, it is better to choose oils with higher smoke points and more stable fats. Olive oil is still an extremely healthy option when used properly in low-temperature cooking, dressings and drizzling.