People love fried foods. Fried foods exist in almost every country on the planet. From Africa to the Mediterranean to Europe and the United States, every culture enjoys some form of fried food. Today’s culture frowns on the word “fried” because it seems to be equated with unhealthy eating habits. However, a slice of tomato which is breaded and fried can be an extremely healthy food, if the oil for frying is a healthy oil.
Olive oil is considered to be the healthiest form of oil available. It is not commonly used in frying because olive oil tends to be a bit more expensive than other forms of oil. Olive oil is the perfect oil for frying foods because of its many wonderful properties. It contains a large amount of vitamin E and natural antioxidants. These ingredients in the oil cause the chemical change during frying to be much slower with olive oil than with other types of cooking oil.
During the heating process, all oils go through chemical changes. This change is sometimes called the “smoke point” of the oil. When an oil is heated beyond its smoke point, it becomes chemically unstable. This causes the oil to break down and damages the phenols in the oil. When this process occurs, the oil loses its vitamin E and many of its healthy qualities. The key to cooking with olive oil is to avoid over-heating the oil. Generally, a temperature of up to approximately 250 degrees is ideal for frying. This temperature is well below the smoke point of olive oil. Olive oil tends to smoke at around 410 degrees. This is the highest smoke point temperature of any cooking oil. Olive oil creates a seal when heated. Any food which is placed in hot olive oil becomes immediately sealed. This allows the food to retain its flavor while blocking extra oil from entering the breading on the food. Olive oil is perfect for frying breaded foods, since only the minimum amount of oil is absorbed by the food. Olive oil remains healthy and easily digested by the human body even after several uses during the frying process. Extra virgin olive oil is the very best cooking oil that can be purchased for frying. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most costly of the cooking oils. Off-setting this cost is simple since olive oil can be reused many times without changing the chemical composition of the oil. Although it is not usually the first choice for frying, olive oil is unquestionably the best choice.