By James Brown and Rachel Adams in The Conversation.
It recently has been suggested that using vegetable oils to fry food may be bad for your health due to the production of toxic chemicals called aldehydes during the heating process. Aldehydes are simple organic structures – compounds which contain a carbon-oxygen double bond – and are abundant in nature. They are formed in the human body in small amounts as by-products of normal fructose and alcohol metabolism. Consumption of dietary aldehydes is thought to contribute to human diseases including diabetes and heart disease. But what about olive oil? Is it classed as a vegetable oil, and is it safe to fry food with it?
Around half of UK households now use olive oil, which demonstrates a sizeable shift in our oil use in recent years. This may be in part because olive oil consumption is frequently linked to good health, and forms a central component of the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is itself known to reduce the risk of disease and early death. Olive oil, produced by pressing olives, is commonly used across the world in food preparation, whether for frying, drizzling or as a part of a salad dressing. It is therefore classed as a vegetable oil, as it is produced from vegetable matter, as opposed to animal fats such as lard or goose fat.
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