Deep frying provides that satisfying crunch while keeping your meat juicy. But it comes at a price, adding calories and fat to your dish. Try deep frying with olive oil for more health benefits.
Read more: What Are the Benefits of Drinking Olive Oil?
While olive oil is a healthy fat, deep frying foods adds a significant number of calories to your meal.
Recognize Olive Oil Benefits
Fats may be saturated, polyunsaturated or monounsaturated. Saturated fats contribute to high cholesterol and clogged arteries, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Monounsaturated fats such as olive oil and avocados, and polyunsaturated fats such as corn and canola oil, don't clog arteries and even may help lower cholesterol, according to the University of Michigan.
Olive oil makes a healthier substitute for butter for dipping bread or brushing on streaks and vegetables. Olive oil is an important part of the diet eaten by people in countries around the Mediterranean Sea. These people have lower levels of heart disease than people in other countries.
Adding olive oil to your diet, especially to replace saturated fats such as butter, can help lower your cholesterol.
Know Your Deep-Frying Basics
Deep frying involves heating large quantities of oil to a high temperature and then frying foods quickly in the hot oil. The key to healthier fried foods lies in the temperature of the oil.
If the oil isn't hot enough to cook the food quickly, the food absorbs excess oil and fat. If the oil is too hot, components in the oil begin to break down, which produces off flavors and can produce toxic compounds in the oil.
Heat the oil to the right temperature, usually 350 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. According to North Dakota State University, frying foods at lower temperatures causes the food to absorb more oil.
Olive Oil and High Heat
Every oil has a temperature at which it begins to break down. This temperature, known as the smoke point, is lower for olive oil than for other types of oil used from frying, such as peanut or canola oil. However, choosing the right types of olive oil for cooking is important.
Extra virgin olive oil smoking point is only 320 F, making it unsuitable for deep frying. Light olive oil, with a smoke point of 460 F, can be used to deep fry, but deep frying with olive oil does not make food healthier than frying with other kinds of polyunsaturated oils.
Keep Your Health in Mind
Olive oil can be part of a healthy diet, which may include some fried foods. Instead of deep frying, brush vegetables with a light coating of oil and cook them in the oven for oven-fried foods. Make your own healthier salad dressings with olive oil and lemon juice or vinegar.
Use olive oil instead of butter to flavor steamed vegetables or as a dip for bread instead of butter. According to the USDA, 1 tablespoon of butter contains 7 grams of saturated fat while 1 tablespoon of olive oil contains 1.9 grams.
- North Dakota State University: "Prairie Fare — Even Deep-Fried Foods Can Fit in a Healthy Diet"
- University of Michigan: "The Health Benefits of Olive Oil"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "The Truth About Fats: The Good, The Bad, and the In-Between"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Butter"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Olive Oil"