If you take a turn down the oil isle in your local grocery store, you will find more oil choices than should probably be necessary. The more artisanal your shopping spot is, the more oil choices you will find. However, even if you don’t buy into all the different varieties, there is still one question that people must ask themselves – do you pick extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) or the classic vegetable oil? What is the difference between them? Is there a difference? There are so many questions that need answering, about oil of all things. Since quality ingredients are essential in quality panini recipes, we figured we should address it at least once.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil is made from, as its name suggests, olives. They are pressed and the resulting oil that is squeezed out is then bottled and sold. The “extra virgin” of EVOO is essentially all part of the olive oil grading system. Labeling olive oil as “extra virgin” means that it remains unrefined so the healthy fat within is not broken down and thus processed out. It is essentially the gold standard for olive oil, and buying anything less will cause you to miss out on the great flavor and health benefits of EVOO.
True EVOO will have a darker color, closer to the green olives they come from, and will have a vaguely olive taste and aroma. Counterfeiting EVOO is actually pretty big business since it sells for so much more money. Some sellers even use chlorophyll to alter the color of low grade oil to sell it for a higher price as EVOO.
By choosing true EVOO, you are getting the purest oil that not only comes with superior flavor, but it also features the best health benefits. People typically enjoy EVOO because it is natural and has been minimally processed. However, it is also packed full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which still need to be enjoyed in moderation, but they help to lower cholesterol as well as blood sugar levels.
Unlike olive oil, there is not just one vegetable that is used to make vegetable oil. The term vegetable oil is more of a broad sweeping term that covers a number of different oils such as canola oil (typically what we are referring to with the term), grapeseed oil, or peanut oil.
Like olive oil, many vegetable oils have an assertive flavor due to whatever ingredient they were made from. However, there are also some varieties with a milder flavor that are used when cooking ingredients that you don’t want to overwhelm. Unfortunately, the major issue that people have with vegetable oil is how bad it is for your health.
The truth is that most vegetable oils start off high in monounsaturated fats too, but most of that is processed out during manufacturing. All that is left behind is the trans fat, making vegetable oil one of the worse things for your heart.
Conclusion – Is Olive Oil Better Than Vegetable Oil?
There is no question the olive oil is infinitely healthier than heavily processed vegetable oil, but as to which one is better, there is no answer for it. There is no answer because there is no debate. The truth is that these two oils are used for vastly different things.
Olive oil has a very low smoke point, meaning it cannot withstand high temperatures for very long without smoking or even catching fire. On the other hand, vegetable oil has a very high smoke point, making it the preferred choice for frying and searing off food.
While you can still cook with heat and olive oil, you can’t cook food in it for very long. Even a short sear or sauté is enough to impart the natural flavor of EVOO, but olive oil is best used as a finishing oil. This involves no heat, but rather a quick drizzle before eating is enough to get that wonderful flavor and reap all the health benefits.
Vegetable oil is essentially why fried foods are so bad for you. It is because they are fried in vegetable oil that is full of heart unhealthy trans fats. If you could fry food in olive oil, the food would be healthier. Unfortunately, the attempt to fry anything in olive oil will likely result in lighting your kitchen on fire.
So, in the end, while olive oil is easily the superior choice in terms of taste and health, if you want to fry food or sauté for long periods of time, you will need to use vegetable oil instead. As such, there is no one oil that is better than another, they are just used for different purposes.