What Is The Difference Between Olive Oil And Vegetable Oil

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The Distinctions Between Vegetable and Olive Oil

The Distinctions Between Vegetable and Olive Oil

Every kitchen necessitates the use of cooking oil. It's what allows you to sauté vegetables without them sticking, fry pancakes to golden perfection, and make baked goods moist. Choosing a cooking oil that is both healthy and appropriate for your recipe, on the other hand, can be downright perplexing. People frequently find themselves debating between two major contenders: olive oil and vegetable oil.

Vegetable oil, on the other hand, is a little more difficult to work with. While it may sound healthy (vegetables are, after all, nutritious), its name is a little misleading, as it is a highly processed oil that has lost most of its micronutrients during production. Due to its neutral flavor and high smoke point, vegetable oil is frequently recommended for cooking a wide range of dishes, from cakes to fried chicken, but new research suggests that it is not the most stable when heated.

Here, we compare the nutrition, health benefits, taste, and culinary uses of olive oil and vegetable oil so you can decide which one to keep in your pantry.

How Are Vegetable Oil and Olive Oil Produced?

The production of olive oil versus vegetable oil varies greatly. Let's take a closer look.

How is olive oil produced?

Extra virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil are made in their most basic forms by picking and washing the olives, grinding and mixing them into a uniform paste, separating separating the solids (or pomace) from the liquid oil, and then filtering it Because the oil is never exposed to chemicals or high heat, its flavors, aromas, and potent bioactive compounds such as polyphenols are preserved.

Regular (or pure) olive oil and light olive oil are slightly more processed, containing a mix of virgin and refined olive oil. To remove defects in flavor, aroma, and color, the refined component has been treated with heat and various chemical agents.

How does vegetable oil get made?

Vegetable oil is the most highly processed cooking oil available. Vegetable oil is typically a blend of several oils, including soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, and safflower oil.

Foods like corn and soy, unlike olives, cannot be simply pressed to extract their oil (due to their low fat content), so they must undergo extensive processing. Grinding, bleaching, deodorizing, using chemical solvents, and subjecting the oil to extremely high heat are all part of the process (sometimes past their heat tolerance, which can cause rancidity). Not only does this remove most of the flavor, but it also destroys many beneficial micronutrients such as polyphenols and antioxidants.

Olive Oil vs. Vegetable Oil Nutritional Comparison

When you first look at the nutrition labels for olive oil and vegetable oil, they may appear to be very similar. The main distinctions are the fat types and the presence of micronutrients.

Nutritional Value of Olive Oil

Olive oil is well known for its high concentration of monounsaturated fats, which have been linked to lower inflammation and better heart health. The fat content of olive oil may be up to 83 percent oleic acid, a type of monounsaturated fat with anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties that has been shown to lower "bad" LDL cholesterol.

High-quality olive oil also contains a variety of micronutrients and bioactive plant compounds, including polyphenol antioxidants (oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, and oleocanthal), vitamin E, phytosterols, squalene, chlorophyll, and carotenoids, all of which have been linked to lower cholesterol and reduced inflammation. These aren't listed on the nutrition label, but they're abundant in EVOO and present in lesser amounts in other types of olive oil.

According to the USDA, one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil contains the following:

  • 119 calories
  • 13.5 g total fat
  • 1.9 g Saturated fat
  • 1.4 g polyunsaturated fat
  • 10 g monounsaturated fat
  • 0 mg cholesterol
  • 0 g total carbohydrate
  • 0 g protein
  • Vitamin E: 1.9 g (13% daily value).

Nutrition of Vegetable Oil

In comparison to olive oil, vegetable oil has comparable amounts of calories, total fat, and other major nutrients listed on nutrition labels. Vegetable oil, on the other hand, has a much higher ratio of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) to monounsaturated fats (MUFAs). PUFAs are made up of two types of fatty acids: omega-3 and omega-6, but the type found in vegetable oil is almost entirely omega-6.

While omega-6 fats aren't inherently "bad" (they're needed by the body), nutritionists believe that eating more omega-6s than omega-3s may cause inflammation because omega-6s are more susceptible to oxidation. Because modern diets already contain high levels of PUFA omega-6 fats (intake has nearly tripled in the United States in the last 100 years due to the introduction of processed foods), using vegetable oil in home cooking will further destabilize that ratio. Vegetable oil is also deficient in micronutrients.

According to the USDA, one tablespoon of vegetable oil contains the following:

  • 120 calories
  • 13.6 g total fat
  • 2.1 g Saturated fat
  • 3.1 g monounsaturated fat
  • 7.8 g polyunsaturated fat
  • 0 mg cholesterol
  • 0 g total carbohydrate
  • 0 g protein
  • 1.1 milligrams of vitamin E (7 percent daily value)

Which is preferable for cooking?

When it comes to cooking for maximum health benefits, olive oil is your best bet every time. If you don't care about nutrition and want a nearly flavorless oil at a low cost, vegetable oil will suffice.

We understand that this may come as a surprise to you. However, contrary to popular belief, olive oil can withstand high temperatures because it is primarily composed of heat-stable monounsaturated fats. The high concentration of polyphenols in EVOO also aids in its resistance to oxidation (research has shown EVOO is actually the most stable cooking oil for these two reasons). Vegetable oils, on the other hand, are mostly made up of polyunsaturated fats, which are easily oxidized. Do you know which oil is best in the following scenarios? Here's a breakdown of what you can expect from each.


If you want to add extra flavor and health benefits to your baked goods, extra virgin olive oil is ideal. It goes well with savory, nutty, and fruity flavor profiles, especially citrus (which is why we love this gluten-free lemon olive oil cake). The Arbequina olive oil monovarietal is a good choice for a smoother, more buttery finish. If you want a more neutral flavor and to retain some health benefits, regular, pure, or light olive oil is also good.

Because of its neutral flavor profile, vegetable oil has long been a popular choice for baked goods, particularly cakes. It will function properly, but it will not add any flavor or benefits.


If you want to infuse extra flavor and health benefits into vegetables and meats for stir-fries and other recipes, use extra virgin olive oil. If you want a more neutral flavor and to retain some health benefits, use regular, pure, or light olive oil.

Vegetable oil will work for sautéing vegetables and meats, but it will not add flavor or health benefits.


Most people believe that extra virgin olive oil does not hold up well to high frying temperatures (350F), but it can be used to pan-fry and deep-fry, and it adds a wonderful flavor to foods like sweet potato fries, french fries, fried plantains, and eggs. Regular, pure, or light olive oils work well for adding more subtle flavor to fried foods.

However, we understand that there are times when you don't want to add any additional flavor to your fried foods. Vegetable oil may be preferable in these cases.

Vinaigrettes and marinades

Marinade recipes frequently call for olive oil or vegetable oil. The only difference is that olive oil will provide a flavorful base for your marinade, whereas vegetable oil is primarily used as a vehicle for other flavorful ingredients (e.g. herbs, spices, garlic, vinegar, etc).

Is There a Taste Difference?

The flavor difference between olive oil and vegetable oil is night and day. In terms of flavor, olive oil, particularly high-quality extra virgin olive oil, is unrivaled.

EVOO made from green, unripe olives picked early in the growing season has more intense, vibrant flavors described as pungent, grassy, herbaceous, or peppery; ripe olives picked later in the season yield a smoother, more buttery olive oil. Cooking with EVOO imparts a subtle olive oil flavor to your recipes, but pouring it over your finished dish after it has cooled releases even more of the oil's wonderful aromas. Regular, pure, or light olive oils have a more neutral, subtle olive flavor, which makes them ideal for recipes where you don't want to taste the oil, such as certain cakes or cookies (like this chocolate olive oil cake.)

Vegetable oil has almost no flavor at all. Because the more an oil is processed, the fewer flavor compounds (and nutrients) remain. When vegetable oil is used in cooking, no discernible flavors emerge, and we wouldn't recommend it for raw applications (e.g., as a dipping oil, finishing oil, or salad dressing ingredient) because it adds nothing.

Smoke Points of Vegetable Oil vs. Olive Oil

Here's how EVOO and regular olive oil compare in terms of smoke point to vegetable oil and canola oil, another popular cooking oil.

  • 350-4100 F for Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4700 F for regular, pure, or light olive oil
  • 4500 mL Vegetable Oil
  • 4000 F for canola oil

Keep in mind that the smoke point of a cooking oil does not always correspond to its stability. Even though vegetable oil has a high smoke point, its high polyunsaturated fat content makes it more prone to oxidation when heated.

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