Are you a home chef looking for a healthier option for preparing delicious meals? Then it’s time to take a closer look at the differences between olive oil and vegetable oil. These two cooking staples offer their own unique tastes, benefits, and uses in the kitchen. From deep-frying to baking, we’ll explore the advantages and disadvantages of each so that you can make an informed decision about what type of oil works best for your culinary needs.
How is olive oil and vegetable oil produced?
Vegetable oils are produced by extracting the oil from plants, typically through mechanical pressing. This process entails crushing and discarding any undesired components of the plant material. Once they have been crushed up, heat is then applied to help extract the oil. The nut/seed meal that has been heat-treated is directed through a press, which progressively intensifies the pressure, helping to release the oil from the meal. Afterward, the oil is then filtered and decanted for further refining. While the extraction method of vegetable oil removes many of the nutrients, olive oil retains its health benefits because it is cold-pressed. This extraction method produces oil that is high in antioxidants and fatty acids, while also preserving the flavors and other beneficial compounds found in olives.
Depending on when growers decide they are ready, olives can be harvested mechanically by shakers or over-the-row harvesters, or by hand. After that step, the process of extracting olive oil from the olive fruit begins with grinding. The olive paste must then enter a malaxer, which is a stainless steel trough with a corkscrew mixer turning at the bottom to slowly stir the paste so that the tiny microdroplets of oil will bind together into larger drops. Next comes the processor centrifugation, which spins the material to separate it into two parts—oil and water. The oil is then stored in tanks until it is ready for bottling.
How processing affects flavor
Processing can greatly affect the flavor of olive oil and vegetable oil. By undergoing extensive processing, oils lose their nutritional value and original flavor. For instance, when comparing extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) with vegetable oil - the former offers a robust olive taste while the latter has an unidentifiable bland taste.
Comparing the health benefits of both types of oils
It's important that we make the best decisions for our diets. One common question is whether olive oil or vegetable oil is the healthier option.
Depending on the degree of processing an oil undergoes, its flavor and nutritional composition can differ significantly. While both olive and vegetable oils contain a healthy amount of unsaturated fatty acids, olive oil contains higher amounts of monounsaturated fats like oleic acid, linoleic acid, and palmitic acid, while vegetable oil is richer in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats have been linked to anti-inflammatory properties and improved heart health; however, omega-6 polyunsaturated fats can be pro-inflammatory when eaten in excess amounts. What’s more, the more refining an oil goes through – whether it be vegetable or olive – the fewer micronutrients and beneficial compounds it retains. The best option for optimal health benefits is to opt for extra virgin olive oil whenever possible.
Different ways to use olive oil and vegetable oil
It's time to put the myth that olive oil is not suitable for high-heat cooking to rest! EVOO is the preferred option for high-temperature cooking, and it has recently been proclaimed by the USDA as a recommended oil when frying. What makes EVOO distinct from other oils is its delicate flavor coupled with an extremely high smoke point, meaning you can deep-fry without worrying about any flavors masking or overwhelming one another.
Olive oil, along with vegetable oil, can be used in an array of recipes and cooking techniques. EVOO makes a great base for sautés or you can use it to fry with or create a velvety sauce. It’s also perfect for marinating poultry, fish, meat or vegetables and will give your salads an irresistible flavor. And if you’re also into baking sweet treats - think muffins, breads, and cakes - then olive oil can come as quite a surprise. Use it as a dairy-free alternative to butter and enjoy the difference!
What are the different types of olive oil?
Extra virgin olive oil
Widely accepted as the highest grade of olive oil, it is the product of virgin olive oil production (mechanical extraction) without the use of any solvents or refining. EVOO has the greatest health benefits and the most intense flavor.
Virgin olive oil
This type follows the same production process as extra virgin but has a free acidity of up to 1.5%. With a milder flavor profile than EVOO, it also manages to retain a lot of the same health properties.
Pure olive oil
This grade of olive oil is a blend of virgin olive oil and refined olive oil. Refined olive oil is obtained from extra virgin olive oil through a refining process that removes impurities and corrects sensory defects. Pure olive oil has a milder flavor and higher smoke point, making it suitable for cooking methods like sautéing and frying.
Extra Light olive oil
This is a 100% refined olive oil. It is refined following a three-step process: deodorizing, decoloring, and neutralizing. It's very mild in flavor but high in smoke point, extra-light olive oil is commonly used for sautéing, marinating, frying, and baking.
Whether you’re a novice cook, or a trained chef wanting to diversify your culinary repertoire, it is important to understand the difference between olive oil and vegetable oil before deciding which one to use. While many still believe vegetable oil to be the most versatile cooking oil because of its higher smoking point, the health benefits of olive oil far outweigh those of vegetable oil.
The thing to remember about cooking with olive oil at high temperatures is that no matter how much heat it is exposed to, EVOO will not break down, lose its nutritional value, or produce harmful compounds. As long as you buy a high-quality product, extra virgin olive oil is your best bet for achieving great health benefits along with delicious and varied recipes.
At Terra Delyssa, we stand by our commitment to producing superior-quality olive oil. To this end, all of our production processes, from harvesting to bottling, adhere to rigorous regulations set out by the International Olive Council. Our pioneering efforts ensure that not only do we deliver superior-tasting and nutrient-rich olive oil but also that we do so in a sustainable way, safeguarding the environment for future generations. With an abundance of aromas, vitamins, minerals, and unparalleled antioxidants and polyphenols – our range of olive oils is artistry in a bottle.
Discover the goodness of Terra Delyssa olive oil today and make healthy and delicious cooking an effortless pleasure!