A new investigation carried out by the University of Granada has shown that frying with Extra Virgin olive oil can increase the phenolic fraction of fresh vegetables included in the Mediterranean diet (potato, pumpkin, tomato and eggplant).
During the studies, the researchers compared three cooking methods: 120 grams of vegetables were fried in Extra Virgin olive oil, boiled in water, and boiled in a mix of water and olive oil, and then they measured factors like moisture, fat, dry matter, phenol content and antioxidant capacity to know which method is better in terms of nutrient value.
After comparing the total phenol content of the vegetables, the researchers found that frying in Extra Virgin olive oil produces higher levels of natural phenols to vegetables, enriching them with exclusive oil phenolic compounds which are not naturally present in fresh vegetables.
"As a heat transfer medium, the Extra Virgin olive oil increases the amount of phenols in vegetables, in contrast with other methods such as boiling, which use a water-based heat transfer medium" said the researchers.
These natural phenols antioxidants are linked to the prevention of chronic degenerative diseases such as cancer, diabetes or macular degeneration.
In addition, in proper temperature conditions, without over-heating, Extra Virgin olive oil undergoes no substantial structural change and keeps its nutritional value better than other oils. Its high smoking point is higher than the normal temperature for frying food, because of this, Extra Virgin olive oil does not break down, neither forms toxic products.
In conclusion, Extra Virgin olive oil is ideal for frying food.