Food Fight

Olive and rapeseed do battle in the oil wars

MR45_Food fight.indd

There is a real culture around olive oil, popularised by the hype around the ‘Mediterranean Diet’. However, is there a healthier alternative to our trusty olive oil? Enter rapeseed oil and all its potential health properties. But which of these two oils has the edge?

Olive oil is well known for its protective properties in maintaining a healthy heart, with the virgin olive oils containing an even wider range of antioxidant plant compounds and vitamin E. The main type of fat in olive oil is monounsaturated which helps prevent cholesterol being deposited on artery walls and therefore helps to protect us from cardiovascular disease. Olive oil like rapeseed oil is rich in antioxidant vitamin E. But be careful how you store your olive oil as researchers in Italy have found that light destroys many of the disease–fighting compounds in the oil. Olive oil should be stored in the dark and used within one-two months.

Rapeseed oil is one of the healthiest oils. It is nearly as high in monounsaturated fat as olive oil and contains much higher amounts of omega-3 fat. This has a variety of health benefits when eaten regularly, more so than in any other oil used in quantities for culinary purposes. Rapeseed oil has a perfect balance between omega-6 and omega-3s and is lower in saturated fat than all commonly used oils. It also contains no artificial preservatives and is trans-fat and GM free.

Both oils are good choices as they are high in unsaturated fatty acids. However, the winner here is rapeseed oil which has less unhealthy saturated fat than most cooking oils – 50% less than olive oil and a fraction of that of palm oil. In fact, the rapeseed revolution in many ways has an even better ‘health profile’ than its rival does. It contains an excellent balance of essential fats in line with recommended guidelines.

Refined rapeseed oil is a good choice for cooking because it doesn’t degrade when heated. Cold pressed or extra virgin rapeseed oil is great choice for salad dressings and drizzling. Its nutty flavour is particularly good drizzled over artichoke hearts or asparagus.

Emma Patel

Written by David Castle | 173 articles | View profile

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