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TheDailyMeal.com: 7 Myths About Olive Oil

Myth #2: When cooking with olive oil, always use extra-virgin olive oil

How many recipes have you seen specify "extra-virgin olive oil" in the ingredient list? The abbreviation has even become an endearing (or eye-roll-inducing) mantra for home cooks, thanks to Rachael Ray —we're not going to say it because we're not allowed to say it (the word is on a wall of banned words called "The Island" in our office), and you already know how it goes anyway. (Take a shot, now.)

If it's a salad dressing recipe or even a baking recipe, that's fine — but if it asks you to sauté, grill, roast, or (gasp) fry, it's really bad advice — the smoke point of extra-virgin olive oil is about 375 to 405 degrees, and if you go past it, as you surely will when using one of these high-temperature cooking techniques, you'll produce all sorts of nasty chemicals that will end up in your food. Some common examples include peroxides, aldehydes, ketones, and hydroperoxides, all of which are toxic. But you don't just end up producing bad substances; you end up destroying the good ones, too. At 356 degrees, antioxidants start to say goodbye — tocopherols are the first to go.

Instead, when cooking at high temperatures, use a refined olive oil, which has a much higher smoke point. At stores, it is often marketed as "extra-light," "light tasting," or even just "olive oil." Save that beautiful extra-virgin olive oil for finishing a dish, not for cooking it.

(Credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)
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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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