Though olive oil is a kind of vegetable oil, there are several differences between olive oil and what is commercially sold as vegetable oil. Everyone needs fat in their diet and cooking oils provide your body with the healthy unsaturated fats that help protect your immune system. Both types of oils have both pros and cons, and when consumed in limited quantities, can be very beneficial to your health.
All oils have the same nutritional make up - 13.6 grams of fat and 120 calories per tablespoon. Though both olive oil and vegetable oil are touted for their health benefits, it is important to understand that both should be used in moderation as part of a healthy diet.
Olive Oil Basics
Olive oil is made by the mechanical pressing of olives, or Olea europaea, as they are scientifically named. This crude form of natural oil has its own unique and natural flavor and is used for both cooking and eaten raw. Olive oil is packed full of antioxidants and mono-unsaturated fats and is generally thought of to be one of the most heart-healthy choices. Olive oil is a good choice of oil when you will be cooking at a low to medium temperature because of its low smoke point of 375 degrees.
Olive oil is shown to increase good cholesterol levels while decreasing the bad cholesterol levels in our bodies, and helping to prevent against heart disease and certain types of cancer. Additionally, olive oil works to promote the secretion of bile from the pancreas.
There are many different kinds of olive oil, with extra virgin olive oil being the least refined and most natural. Olive oil should always be kept in a cool, dark location with its top in place to prevent oxidation and rancidity.
Vegetable Oil Basics
Vegetable oils are those oils derived from plants, most commonly by means of industrial solvent extraction. Because of the methods used to obtain these oils, they are not as natural as most olive oils. However, pure vegetable oils can be good to help maintain a balanced diet and to help control high blood pressure and diabetes. Most commercial products sold as vegetable oil are generally soybean oil, which is rich in the healthy Omega-3 oils, though does not contain as much of this heart healthy fat as other oils like canola oil.
Vegetable oils have a high smoke point, making them perfect for cooking over high heats. Overall, most vegetable oils exhibit a very low aroma and do not transfer much taste into any food that is cooked with them.
Vegetable oils often appear to be thinner and lighter than most olive oils. Vegetable oils are also prone to rancidity and need to be stored out of the light in a tightly closed container.
There are many different reasons to use one or the other when cooking, depending on your cooking method or flavors of the food you will be cooking. Using a mix of oils and eating a balanced diet rich in healthy fats, lean protein and whole grains is the best way to have great health and control weight.