Both grape seed and olive oil are produced from plants, and are considered healthy oils since they contain primarily unsaturated fats, low amounts of saturated fat, and they are extremely low in cholesterol. Nutritionally, their contents are very similar. So, how do you choose which of these two oils would be better to use in your cooking?
Olive oil is an extremely popular choice for cooking at the moment. It is produced by pressing olives, and the type of olive oil is determined by the pressing used. Extra virgin olive oil is always obtained out of the first pressing, and has not been refined.
Other grades of olive oil will have been refined and blended before bottling. This means that there is a variety of different olive oils that can be used for different purposes. The taste can also vary between blends and brands, sometimes considerably.
Olive oil tends to have a strong taste, particularly if you are using extra virgin olive oil, which is not generally used for cooking. This taste will complement Mediterranean foods, but can be too powerful for other styles of cooking.
If you are intending to use the oil for deep frying, then you will need to take the smoke point of the oil into account. Olive oil has a low smoke point, which means it is not suitable for deep frying as it cannot be heated to high enough temperatures. The temperature known as the smoke point is when the oil cannot be reused – the flavour degrades and it can be dangerous to heat above this point.
Olive oil is a good source of vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant, protecting your body and strengthening your immune system.
Grape seed oil
This oil is made by pressing grape seeds that have been left over after the grapes have been used for making wine. It is a particularly environmentally friendly product because it uses the waste from another industry. Grape seed oil is currently growing in popularity, but is not yet widely used, or even known about.
Grape seed oil is usually neutral-tasting oil. This means it is an ideal oil to use for cooking mild foods, as it will not overpower more delicate flavours. It is also suitable for use in baking as it will not add any flavour to the final product.
The smoke point of grape seed oil is high enough for the oil to be used in deep frying. This, combined with the neutral flavour, makes grape seed oil extremely versatile, as it can also be used as a basis for salad dressings.
Grape seed oil contains approximately twice as much vitamin E as olive oil, so it is a more powerful antioxidant and therefore has greater health benefits.
Health benefits of olive oil
Olive oil has been found to have a number of health benefits, and these include several different regions of the body and different health conditions. The benefits of olive oil include:
The heart. Olive oil has been shown in clinical studies to reduce blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and reduce inflammation. It also acts as an antioxidant.
Cancer. Olive oil contains a number of chemicals that help to protect the body, slowing down the development and metastasis of cancer. The chemical oleuporein, found in olive oil, is effective against several different cancers.
Diabetes. A Mediterranean style diet, which is rich in olive oil, reduces the risk of developing late-onset, otherwise known as type two, diabetes. This has also been demonstrated in recent clinical studies.
Anti-inflammatory effects. The chemical oleocanthal, also found in olive oil, has been shown to be at least as effective as ibuprofen at reducing inflammation, and does not have the harmful side effects of the over-the-counter medication. Olive oil can therefore be helpful in reducing chronic inflammation, which can affect many areas of the body.
Health benefits of grape seed oil
Omega 6 fatty acids. This oil is known to be extremely rich in omega 6 fatty acids. These fatty acids help to prevent a wide range of health problems, including rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, high blood pressure and osteoporosis.
Antioxidants. Grape seed oil is extremely high in the antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene. These help to protect your body and slow down the process of ageing. Vitamin E is also important in the production of red blood cells, while beta carotene is important for maintaining the health of the eyes.
If you are looking for oil that will be suitable for a wide variety of uses in the kitchen, then grape seed oil will be a better choice for you than olive oil. However, if you are looking at the potential health benefits, it would be better to buy a bottle of each and alternate which one you use in your cooking, as they both confer different benefits. Olive oil will add more flavour to your food, but is only suitable for cooking at relatively low temperatures, whereas grape seed oil can be used for deep frying.
Olive oil is more widely available as it has now been a popular choice for cooking for a number of years, being advertised as a healthy alternative to other cooking oils. Grape seed oil has only recently started to become available, but as its popularity grows, it will become easier to obtain.
The other advantage of grape seed oil is that you do not need to select which grade of oil to buy, as you do with olive oil – there is only one type of grape seed oil. The different brands of grape seed oil will also taste extremely similar, due to the neutral taste. This is a disadvantage of olive oil; different brands can taste completely different from one another.
Overall, the choice of which oil to use depends on the purpose, as both contain mostly polyunsaturated fats, and are therefore classed as “healthy fats”, and both have a range of other benefits for your overall health.
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