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Someone told me a while ago that if you cook with olive oil (in a curry, for example) that its properties change compared with using it in a cold dish (e.g., salad dressing).

Firstly, is this actually true of olive oil, or any oil, for that matter? If so, how are things like the vitamins, antioxidants or saturated/unsaturated fat balance of a particular oil changed when it's cooked?

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Are you seriously saying health is not considered relevant to cooking on this site? Why is "nutrition" even a valid tag if it's off-topic? Is this a wind-up!? –  ATG Dec 18 '13 at 20:45
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it is relevant to your cooking decisions, but not accepted on our site. It is such a major off-topic that it has its custom close reason. The reason for it being off topic is that there can be no consensus on nutrition topics, and the whole Stack Exchange network relies on factual information only, not discussion of opinions. The nutrition tag is reserved for nutrition label purposes, such as asking if kale has more Vitamin C than spinach. Such a statement is verifiable by a simple measurement, while alone the definition of the word "healthy" is impossible with any reasonable precision. –  rumtscho Dec 18 '13 at 20:55
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Thank you for taking the time to make an edit. I am reopening the question. I am still afraid that I will have to edit or delete answers which take a position on whether the changes are healthy or not, and simple information on the changes (of the kind "some of the saturated and some of the unsaturated fats will change to a multitude of new compounds") will not be of any help to you. But here it is, do with it whatever you can. –  rumtscho Dec 18 '13 at 21:30
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@rumtscho, instead of [nutrition], I propose [properties] –  BaffledCook Dec 18 '13 at 21:44
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@BaffledCook this is a terrible tag. People who are thinking of macronutrients may or may not think to call the nutritional content of a dish its "properties". People who are thinking of anything else about a dish - texture, transportability, whatever - will also think that "properties" applies to their case. In the end, the word is way too generic to distinguish between different types of questions. –  rumtscho Dec 18 '13 at 21:55

2 Answers 2

Usually this is said specifically about extra virgin olive oil. The reasoning is that extra virgin oil is pressed cold and processed without heating in order to preserve specific flavor profiles in the finished product. Cheaper oils are extracted using heat to maximize extraction, but lose some of these flavors. Generally heating is discouraged because you're paying a premium for unheated oil, so using it in hot applications would defeat the purpose.

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These links have a lot of information on them:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooking_oil

http://www.martinfrost.ws/htmlfiles/oct2008/cooking-oils.html

This link specifically answers - Why it's best not to cook with extra virgin olive oil

http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=dailytip&dbid=261

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