What’s the most stable, healthful oil for frying food?

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Frying is one of the world’s most popular ways to prepare food — and is responsible for much of the flavor of tasty treats like french fries, funnel cakes, tempura and fried chicken.

Even candy bars, Twinkies and whole turkeys have joined the list of foods that can be fried.

olive oil in glass

Olive oil more stable and healthful than seed oils for frying food

Before dunking your favorite food in a vat of just any old oil, though, consider using olive oil.

Scientists report in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that olive oil withstands the heat of the fryer or pan better than several seed oils, to yield more healthful food.

Mohamed Bouaziz and colleagues notee that different oils have a range of physical, chemical and nutritional properties that can degrade oil quality when heated. Some of these changes can lead to the formation of new compounds that are potentially toxic. Byproducts of heating oil can also lower the nutritional value of the food being fried.

Bouaziz’s team wanted to find out which cooking oil can maintain its quality under high heat and repeated use.

The researchers deep- and pan-fried raw potato pieces in four different refined oils — olive, corn, soybean and sunflower — and reused the oil 10 times.

They found that olive oil was the most stable oil for deep-frying at 320 and 374 degrees Fahrenheit, while sunflower oil degraded the fastest when pan-fried at 356 degrees.

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For frying foods, the researchers concluded that olive oil maintains quality and nutrition better than seed oils.

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