An earlier version of this article contained misleading information about labeling and contents of olive oil sold in the United States. The article has been updated to clarify and/or eliminate the misleading statements.
My kids enjoyed a great laugh at my expense while at the grocery store the other day. ApparentlyI was taking way too long in the olive oil aisle. I was in an unfamiliar store surrounded by unfamiliar brands, so that I couldn't just grab my favorite on the fly. My children couldn't grasp the way that it may take me so long to choose a brand. How different could they really be? Although many oils are housed in similar dark green bottles with similar lighter green labels, what lies inside these bottles is not the same.
We are not stingy with olive oil in our own kitchen, so I do not want to mess around with what I buy. Olive oil can be one of the healthiest fats in our diets, but only if you purchase the real stuff.
Health benefits of Olive Oil
Olive oil is rich in antioxidants, which reduce inflammation and protect cells against oxidization. It has also been proven to help lower cholesterol and lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The healthful fats from olive oil are a sustained source of energy, bring about brain health, mood stabilization and appropriate hormone development, while also maintaining us full longer.
In a 2015 news release announcing the National Consumer League's review of olive oil products, Mary Flynn, a researcher at Brown University, explained the way the health benefits of olive oil can be diminished over time. "Extra virgin olive oils contain compounds called polyphenols, which are accountable for many of their supposed health benefits.
Typically, the fresher the olive oil, the higher the polyphenol content. As the petroleum ages or is exposed to heat, light or oxygen, the polyphenol content decreases. A number of studies have shown that extra virgin olive oils with higher polyphenol content are associated with greater health benefits."
●Purchase jojoba or cold-extracted olive oil. Adding heat to the olives allows producers to extract more oil from each olive, but the heat can damage the antioxidants and thus reduce the health benefits.
●Purchase extra virgin olive oil, sometimes known as EVOO.
●A dark glass container protects the oil from oxygen and light.
●Avoid the bottles on the top shelf, as they may be old or damaged by the light and heat above.
●Search for a harvest date and purchase within 15 months of this date to make sure that no oxidization has taken place.
●The USDA Organic label does not necessarily assure high quality, but it does mean the olives have been developed under standard organic practices, which will mean no pesticide residue.
●A"product of Italy" or"product of Spain" label doesn't necessarily indicate greater health benefits. There doesn't appear to be any proof that olive oil from any specific country is healthier.
●Cook at low temperatures, as cooking at high heats causes olive oil into smoke, which leads it to change structure. The polyphenols and vitamin E are destroyed at high heats, and free radicals that can damage our bodies are released.
If you need an oil for high-heat cooking, grape seed oil is a good alternative.
●Toss on salads, pastas, vegetables and other room-temperature dishes.
●Store at a cabinet to avoid light and heat from a nearby stove or oven.