Know Your Edible Oils

Credit: Getty Images
Vegetable oil or olive oil: what’s the right call?

Edible oils are a pretty common part of the modern human diet. Oil is used as an ingredient, as a topping, and for frying stuff. But just because oil is thick, oily, and comes in a bottle, that doesn’t mean it’s the same as every other oil out there. Case in point, let’s talk about olive oil versus vegetable oil. And before you say anything, olives are fruits, not vegetables.

Olive oil and vegetable oil both produce very distinct flavors when used in cooking. Vegetable oil is a little simpler, so it doesn’t hamper other ingredients as much, while olive oil has a more distinct flavor that makes it better suited for use as a topping than as an ingredient. But the primary difference between vegetable oil and olive oil isn’t where they’re going, but where they came from.

Olive oil is made of pressed olives. Virgin olive oil is named as such because it exposed to the absolute bare minimum of secondary processing. Since it’s less processed and refined, olive oil maintains many of the micronutrients and anti-inflamatories found in olives natively. Olive oil contains various compounds that help to promote heart health and blood flow.

Credit: Shutterstock

Vegetable oil, inversely, is processed to heck and back. Despite being made up of a blend of various plant sources that, on their own, would provide health benefits, any micronutrients that would be present in vegetable oil are completely obliterated in the processing, er, process. The only thing left over in most vegetable oils are omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, which unlike olive oil’s anti-inflamatories, can actually increase your risk of heart disease of you eat too many of them.

To quote a Turkish oil wrestler, you can’t beat virgin olive oil. Edible oil consumption should be carefully regulated anyway, but if you’re going to make a habit of eating oils, go virgin olive. Heck, go extra virgin olive.