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Old 07-20-2009, 12:00 PM   #1
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Olive oil toxic when heated?

So someone was telling me olive oil can be toxic when used with high heat. Is this true? How hot is too hot? And what exactly is the toxicity?

I use a lot of olive oil in my cooking. The only time I don't really use olive oil is deep frying. And then I use veggie oil but only because its cheaper. I've never heard of olive oil being toxic before. So how hot is too hot?

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Old 07-20-2009, 12:07 PM   #2
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All oils, including olive, will start to smoke when they get too hot. The smoke point is different for different oils. That smoking is an indication that the oil is breaking down. If you allow it to continue smoking, the taste will be "off" and will ruin the flavor of the food you're cooking. Allowed to go far enough, the oil could ignite and burn.

I've never heard of it's being toxic.
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Old 07-20-2009, 12:08 PM   #3
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Hi and welcome to DC. I think the problem is to do with breaking the fat chains in the oil. But there are lots of experts in this forum and someone with a better understanding of food and oil chemistry will be able to answer you in greater detail.

In the meantime, however, people here where I live make their own olive oil and use it for everything, even deep frying. Life expectancy here is very long, so I don't think toxicity is a serious problem.
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Old 07-20-2009, 12:10 PM   #4
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It's not unique to olive oil. Any and all oils become toxic once they've been heated past their smoke point.

When oil is hot eneough to smoke it decomposes. The smoke is toxic and the oil generates free radicals.

Here's a smoke point chart: Cooking Oil Smoke Points
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Old 07-20-2009, 01:01 PM   #5
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Olive oil is not toxic when used over high heat. I've been using extra-virgin olive oil for almost all my cooking needs - high heat included - for over 30 years. No problems, "free radicals" or not.
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Old 07-20-2009, 01:10 PM   #6
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Check this article on the subject:
Food Fried In Vegetable Oil May Contain Toxic Compound

And this:
http://www.news-medical.net/news/2005/05/02/9722.aspx
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Old 07-20-2009, 01:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BreezyCooking View Post
Olive oil is not toxic when used over high heat. I've been using extra-virgin olive oil for almost all my cooking needs - high heat included - for over 30 years. No problems, "free radicals" or not.
I once drove 130 miles per hour on a deserted desert road and I didn't die.
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Old 07-20-2009, 01:18 PM   #8
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Hope that "dessert" road was yummy!!

Anyway, I am NOT giving up cooking with extra-virgin olive oil. Period. Every time you turn around someone is all-too-ready to blitz yet another food item. And then months later there's another flip-flop. Coffee, tea, wine, chocolate, etc. - now it's olive oil? Puhleeze. Do what you want. I don't buy into it anymore.

My cooking/eating mantra has always been: Moderation in all things. And I'm sticking to it.
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Old 07-20-2009, 01:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BreezyCooking View Post
...Anyway, I am NOT giving up cooking with extra-virgin olive oil. Period. Every time you turn around someone is all-too-ready to blitz yet another food item. And then months later there's another flip-flop. Coffee, tea, wine, chocolate, etc. - now it's olive oil? Puhleeze. Do what you want. I don't buy into it anymore....
How on earth did you get that out of this thread? The point is not to overheat your oils -- ANY cooking oil, especially highly unsaturated oils.
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Old 07-20-2009, 01:35 PM   #10
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What else could I assume? If you overheat your oil to the point where it's "supposed" to be toxic, your food would be incinerated or at the very least inedible. And you'd find that out immediately. However, I saute & fry completely adequately over "high" heat, which was what was stated & don't consider it a health risk.

I just feel that even intimating that olive oil over high heat is harmful unnecessarily puts the fear of God into many people - especially those fairly new to cooking. If they overheat their oil, they'll quickly find they can't cook properly in it. Problem automatically solved without scaring them away from it.
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