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Vegetable Oil vs Olive Oil: Which is Better?

Vegetable oil and olive oil are two of the most popular options when it comes to cooking oils. Both oils have distinctive qualities, and picking the best one can have a big impact on the flavor, health advantages, and environmental impact of your meals. To help you choose wisely the next time you’re in the kitchen, we’ll examine the distinctions between vegetable oil and olive oil in this post.

Bottle pouring virgin olive oil in a bowl close up

Vegetable oil is a catch-all word for any oil obtained from plants.

It can be produced using oils from soy, corn, canola, sunflower, safflower, or a combination of these. Olive oil, on the other hand, is created by pressing whole olives.

Olive oil is available in a variety of forms, including extra-virgin, virgin, pure, and light.

Vegetable and olive oils have very different fatty acid compositions, antioxidant contents, and other nutritional components.

Olive oil and vegetable oil both provide health benefits, depending on the type of oil used and how it is consumed.

For instance, while some vegetable oils, like palm and coconut oil, are heavy in saturated fats that may increase the risk of heart disease, others, like canola and soybean oil, are rich in heart-healthy unsaturated fats.

Monounsaturated fats and antioxidants found in olive oil, particularly extra-virgin olive oil, help lower inflammation, raise cholesterol levels, and guard against chronic diseases.

Olive oil is more nutrient-dense than vegetable oil since it has higher levels of vitamins E and K.

Composition of Vegetable and Olive Oils

There are several significant variations between vegetable oil and olive oil in terms of their chemical compositions.

Extra virgin healthy Olive oil with fresh olives on rustic wooden background

Typically, vegetable oil is a mixture of various oils, including canola, corn, soybean, palm, or sunflower oil.

These oils have undergone a procedure that involved high heat, chemicals, and occasionally solvents because they are highly refined.

Although this procedure cleans up contaminants and lengthens the oil’s shelf life, it also takes out a lot of the natural flavors and nutrients that were in the original oil.

Contrarily, olive oil is produced by pressing olives. Olive oil comes in a variety of forms, including extra virgin, virgin, and refined.

The most nutrient- and flavor-rich olive oil is extra virgin, which is produced from the initial cold pressing of the olives.

Virgin olive oil is produced from the second pressing and has a milder flavor and nutritional value.

Virgin olive oil is further processed to create refined olive oil, which is the least flavorful and nutrient-dense of the three.

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The kinds of fats that are present in vegetable oil and olive oil are one of their main distinctions.

Omega-6 fatty acids found in large quantities in vegetable oil are known to promote inflammation in the body.

Contrarily, monounsaturated fatty acids, which are abundant in olive oil, have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties.

The micronutrient content of the oils is another distinction.

Vegetable oil is deficient in micronutrients, whereas high-quality olive oil contains a range of micronutrients and bioactive plant compounds, including antioxidant polyphenols, vitamin E, phytosterols, squalene, chlorophyll, and carotenoids, which have been linked to lowered cholesterol and inflammation.

Overall, there are several significant distinctions to take into account between the composition of vegetable oil and olive oil.

Olive oil is a more natural and nutrient-dense alternative to vegetable oil, which is highly refined and devoid of nutrients.

Health Benefits and Nutritional Comparison

Olive oil and vegetable oil are two of the most widely used types of cooking oils.

green olives and oil on table in

Both oils have distinctive qualities and dietary profiles of their own.

We’ll examine the advantages of olive oil and vegetable oil in terms of nutrition in this part.

Olive Oil

A key component of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil has a number of health advantages.

Pouring olive oil from jug into bowl on wooden table, closeup. Healthy cooking

High levels of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), which have been associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, are one of the key advantages of olive oil.

Antioxidants included in olive oil can help shield your cells from the harm wrought by free radicals.

Here is a comparison of the nutritional value of vegetable oil and olive oil per tablespoon:

NutrientOlive OilVegetable Oil
Calories120120
Fat14g14g
Saturated Fat2g2g
Monounsaturated Fat10g8g
Polyunsaturated Fat1.5g4g
Vitamin E2mg2mg

Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil is a highly refined mixture of neutral oils, which is deficient in micronutrients and high in pro-inflammatory lipids.

Mediterranean cuisine concept with olive oil

Typically, a mixture of corn, soybean, canola, and sunflower oils is used to make vegetable oil.

These oils have significant levels of omega-6 fatty acids, which when ingested in excess can cause inflammation in the body.

Here is a comparison of the nutritional value of vegetable oil and olive oil per tablespoon:

NutrientOlive OilVegetable Oil
Calories120120
Fat14g14g
Saturated Fat2g2g
Monounsaturated Fat10g2g
Polyunsaturated Fat1.5g8g
Vitamin E2mg2mg

In conclusion, due to its high concentration of monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants, olive oil is a healthier option than vegetable oil.

Vegetable oil may be more affordable and accessible, but it’s crucial to think about the potential health hazards of taking too much omega-6 fatty acid.

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Always choose olive oil when selecting an oil for baking or cooking.

Culinary Uses

Both vegetable oil and olive oil have distinct qualities that make them suited for a variety of cooking techniques when it comes to culinary usage.

Glass container with olive oil on wooden table with branches and olives

Here are some typical applications for each oil:

Vegetable Oil

Due to its high smoke point, vegetable oil, a highly refined mixture of neutral oils, is frequently used for deep frying.

Additionally, it can be used for stir-frying, sautéing, and baking.

It is crucial to keep in mind nevertheless that vegetable oil is low in micronutrients and heavy in pro-inflammatory lipids. Therefore, excessive use is not advised.

Following are a few typical uses for vegetable oil in cooking:

  • Deep frying: Vegetable oil has a high smoke point, making it ideal for deep frying foods such as chicken, fish, and French fries.
  • Baking: Vegetable oil can be used as a substitute for butter or margarine in baking recipes.
  • Sautéing and stir-frying: Vegetable oil can be used to sauté vegetables or stir-fry meats.

Olive Oil

Olive oil, which is produced by pressing olives, has been shown to be heart-healthy.

It is a common ingredient in marinades, dips, and salad dressings in Mediterranean cuisine.

Olive oil shouldn’t be used for deep frying because it has a lower smoke point than vegetable oil.

Here are a few typical culinary applications for olive oil:

  • Salad dressings: Olive oil is often used as a base for salad dressings, along with vinegar or lemon juice.
  • Marinades: Olive oil can be used as a base for marinades for meats and vegetables.
  • Dips: Olive oil can be used as a base for dips such as hummus or baba ganoush.
  • Drizzling: Olive oil can be drizzled over cooked vegetables or meats for added flavor.

The preferred flavor profile and the cooking technique ultimately determine which type of oil to use—vegetable or olive.

Olive oil is a healthier alternative for low-heat cooking methods since it is rich in antioxidants and healthy fats, however vegetable oil may be preferable for high-heat cooking techniques like deep frying.

Cost and Accessibility Comparison

Vegetable oil is typically less expensive and more accessible than olive oil in terms of price and availability.

Tomato mozzarella basil leaves black olives and olive oil on wooden table.

This is due to the fact that a range of plants, including corn, soybeans, and sunflower seeds, which are frequently cultivated and processed in big amounts, are used to make vegetable oil.

But olives, which are normally cultivated in particular places and need more time and resources to produce, are what are used to make olive oil.

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Vegetable oil typically costs less than olive oil in terms of price.

For instance, a bottle of 48 ounces of vegetable oil may cost around $2.99, whereas a bottle of 16.9 ounces of extra-virgin olive oil might cost about $8.99.

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that the cost of olive oil can differ based on the oil’s kind, quality, and production location.

Vegetable oil is frequently more readily available than olive oil at grocery stores and supermarkets.

This is due to the fact that vegetable oil is frequently included in processed foods and is employed in baking and frying.

On the other hand, olive oil can be found at grocery store international foods sections or specialist shops.

Overall, vegetable oil might be a better choice for you if affordability and accessibility are your top priorities.

However, it’s crucial to remember that olive oil has a number of health advantages and is frequently seen as a healthier option to vegetable oil.

Environmental Impact

There are several things to think about when comparing the environmental impact of vegetable oil vs olive oil.

Olive oil and olives on wooden rustic table

It can be challenging to decide which type of oil is ultimately better for the earth because both have different environmental trade-offs.

Vegetable oils are one of the greatest causes of deforestation, increased land use, water consumption, and biodiversity loss.

Even though it only makes up about 5.5% of the overall global oil crop area, oil palm now accounts for about 40% of the world’s current supply of vegetable oil, according to an IUCN research.

In light of this, it is possible for the production of vegetable oils, such as palm oil, to have a large negative influence on the environment, especially in regions where forests are being cut down to make way for oil palm plantations.

However, the production of olive oil can also have an adverse effect on the environment, especially in regions where olive groves are heavily planted.

olive oil, green leaves and olives on the table.

A European Commission research claims that excessive olive growing might result in soil erosion, water depletion, and a decline in biodiversity.

But there are also lots of organic and environmentally friendly olive farms aiming to reduce their negative effects on the environment and increase biodiversity.

Vegetable oils can be particularly problematic in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

According to a study that was published in Science of The Total Environment, the complete production chain for vegetable oils might contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.

As opposed to other vegetable oils like palm oil, olive oil production has been proven to have a relatively low carbon impact.

Overall, it’s challenging to determine which kind of oil is more environmentally friendly.

Olive oil and vegetable oils each have specific environmental trade-offs, and the effects of each will vary depending on the farm’s location, farming methods, and processing techniques.

Do your study and pick oils that are produced in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way if you’re worried about the effects your oil use is having on the environment.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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