In case you missed it, not all cooking oil is created equal. When it comes to comparing the pros and cons of the various options, though, it can get quite complicated. Take grapeseed oil vs. olive oil, for example. Can they be used interchangeably? And is one better for you than the other? We did a little digging and got the full scoop on these two pantry staples—and the good news is that they’re both very good for you. Better still, our guide to grapeseed oil and olive oil will tell you everything you need to know about the health benefits and best uses for both.
Grapeseed Oil vs. Olive Oil: Health Benefits
Grapeseed and olive oil have very similar nutrient profiles, including identical fat and calorie content (13.5 grams of fat and 120 calories per tablespoon). The main distinction between the two is that grapeseed oil is rich in polyunsaturated fats, whereas olive oil contains a higher amount of monounsaturated fats. Grapeseed oil also contains more vitamin E than olive oil—providing 27 percent of the Daily Value, as compared to the 13 percent found in olive oil. Still, it’s fair to say that olive oil and grapeseed oil are neck and neck when it comes to health benefits—namely because research suggests that both poly and monounsaturated fats, unlike saturated fats, are thought to significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.
In fact, a 2014 study published in Lipids in Health and Disease concluded that the monounsaturated fat found in olive oil, specifically, contributed to “an overall risk reduction of all-cause mortality (11 percent), cardiovascular mortality (12 percent), cardiovascular events (9 percent), and stroke (17 percent).” As for grapeseed oil, this 2010 study, published in PLoS Medicine, concluded that replacing saturated fats with the polyunsaturated fats found in seed oil is associated with an “overall pooled risk reduction” of 19 percent with regard to coronary heart disease. The takeaway? While grapeseed oil will give you a higher dose of vitamin E, both types of oil boast health benefits, so there’s really no reason to play favorites (on this front, at least).
Grapeseed Oil vs. Olive Oil: Cosmetic Uses
Grapeseed and olive oil are frequently used in skin and hair care products because they are rich in antioxidants—the compounds that help defend against cell damage, reduce inflammation and combat the signs of aging, on the inside and out. Both types of oil also have natural moisturizing properties that help protect the skin barrier and leave your epidermis feeling silky and smooth. As such, grapeseed and olive oil can also be found in hair serums that help revive dehydrated locks. No need to break the bank on expensive products, though—you can enjoy the beauty benefits of these oils by simply adding a couple of drops to your favorite body lotion or shampoo. That said, it’s worth noting that olive oil is slightly comedogenic (meaning it can clog pores), while grapeseed oil is believed to be non-comedogenic—so if you have acne-prone skin, you’d be wise to only slather your face with the latter.
Grapeseed Oil vs. Olive Oil: Taste
When it comes to flavor profile, the difference between grapeseed oil and olive oil is quite pronounced. Indeed, grapeseed oil has such a mild, neutral taste that it’s unlikely to make any impression on your palate at all, whereas the rich flavor of olive oil, which can range from fruity to spicy, does quite a lot to enhance a dish. For this reason, grapeseed oil and olive oil are best suited to different roles in the kitchen (but more on that later).
Grapeseed Oil vs. Olive Oil: Cooking Uses
The skin-boosting benefits of grapeseed and olive oil require only topical application, but if you want to reap the rewards of the heart-healthy unsaturated fats found in both, you’ll need to know how best to use them in the kitchen. Let’s start with smoke point (i.e., how much heat an oil can handle before it starts to burn). Grapeseed oil wins this competition with an impressively high smoke point of 420℉, as compared to the slightly lower 375℉ smoke point of olive oil.
However, the smoke point alone doesn’t provide a complete picture, since research suggests that the health-boosting polyunsaturated fats found in grapeseed oil are actually quite unstable when exposed to high temperatures repeatedly or for prolonged periods of time, and once those polyunsaturated fats start to degrade (i.e., oxidize) they are no longer very good for you at all. As such, grapeseed oil is best in quick-cooking, high-heat dishes like stir-frys. It’s also an excellent candidate for baked goods, salad dressings, pasta sauces and other recipes that benefit from a neutral cooking oil.
As for olive oil, there’s a good chance you’re already quite familiar with what this culinary workhorse can do. Given that olive oil will burn at high temperatures, it’s not a great choice for deep frying. That said, the monounsaturated fats found in olive oil are far more stable than their polyunsaturated cousins, so there’s little health risk associated with using the stuff for high-heat cooking. As such, you can rely on olive oil for both stir-frys and long simmering sautés, as well as baked goods, pasta sauces, salad dressings and pretty much anything else you can think of. In addition to its considerable cooking potential, high-quality olive oil is also a chef-preferred choice for drizzling on all manner of finished dishes, thanks to its rich and complex flavor profile.