Dr. Rudi Moerck is a drug industry insider and an expert on fats and oils.
In this interview, Dr. Moerck discusses the ins-and-outs of cooking oils; the good, the bad and the ones to avoid like the plague.
Extra-virgin olive oil is a good monounsaturated fat that is also
well-known for its health benefits. It's a staple in healthful diets
such as Mediterranean-style diets.
However, it's important to realize it is NOT good for cooking. It
should really only be used cold, typically drizzled on salads and other
Due to its chemical structure and a large amount of unsaturated fats,
cooking makes extra-virgin olive oil very susceptible to oxidative
damage. However, during this interview I learned that extra-virgin olive
oil has a significant draw-back even when used cold – it's still extremely perishable!
As it turns out, extra-virgin olive oil contains chlorophyll that
accelerates decomposition and makes the oil go rancid rather quickly.
In fact, Dr. Moerck actually prefers using almost tasteless,
semi-refined olive oil rather than extra-virgin olive oil for this
If you're like most people, you're probably leaving your bottle of
olive oil right on the counter, opening and closing it multiple times a
week. Remember, any time the oil is exposed to air and/or light, it
oxidizes, and as it turns out, the chlorophyll in extra virgin olive oil
accelerates the oxidation of the unsaturated fats.
Clearly, consuming spoiled oil (of any kind) will likely do more harm than good.
To protect the oil, Dr. Moerck recommends
- Keep in a cool, dark place
- Purchase smaller bottles rather than larger to ensure freshness
- Immediately replace the cap after each pour
To help protect extra virgin olive oil from oxidation, Dr. Moerck
suggests putting one drop of astaxanthin into the bottle. You can
purchase astaxanthin, which is an extremely potent antioxidant, in soft
gel capsules. Just prick it with a pin and squeeze the capsule into the
The beautiful thing about using astaxanthin instead of another
antioxidant such as vitamin E, is that it is naturally red, whereas
vitamin E is colorless, so you can tell the oil still has astaxanthin in
it by its color.
As the olive oil starts to pale in color, you know it's time to throw it away.
You can also use one drop of lutein in your olive oil. Lutein imparts
an orange color and will also protect against oxidation. Again, once
the orange color fades, your oil is no longer protected against
rancidity and should be tossed.
This method is yet another reason for buying SMALL bottles. If you
have a large bottle, you may be tempted to keep it even though it has
begun to oxidize.