A new study, published in Food Chemistry, shows that frying food in extra virgin olive oil is better that other cooking styles. Researchers claim that frying in extra virgin olive oil can help to prevent diabetes, cancer, or macular degeneration.

The researchers from the University of Granada in Spain say that concentration levels of phenol, an antioxidant believed to decrease health risks, can be manipulated through how the food is processed. Apparently, food fried in extra virgin olive oil can be a good source of phenols.

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The research team compared which cooking method gives the best antioxidant capacity and highest amount of phenols by using potatoes, pumpkin, tomato and eggplant. They used three methods of cooking: frying, boiling and cooking with a mixture of the extra virgin olive oil and water. High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) was also used to measure phenolic compound levels in each vegetable.

They found out that the extra virgin olive oil boosted any raw vegetable’s phenolic content. Frying in the olive oil increased the fat content and reduced the moisture, which was not found in other cooking methods.

The experts also advice that pressure cooking, especially when extra virgin olive oil is used, can also be good as long as people consume the water. Interestingly, this does not only enhance the levels of phenols, it improves the quality of the raw food as well.

“We can confirm that frying is the method that produces the greatest associated increases in the phenolic fraction,” said Cristina Samaniego Sánchez, a professor from the university’s Department of Nutrition. “An improvement in the cooking process although it increases the energy density by means of the absorbed oil.”

Other studies also support the researchers’ claim about the benefits of olive oil. It has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, breast cancer and depression.