Did you know that I almost titled my Hamptons Diet book the “The Healthy Miracle Oil Diet”?
That’s because healthy oils (and fats) do exist… you just have to know what to look for.
I’ve outlined the most common cooking oils and their health properties not only in my book, but in these articles, too.
And since last week’s olive oil study was so impressive, I thought I’d talk about how to purchase the best olive oil in a sea of imposters. Because the truth is, there’s one thing that matters just as much as the type of oil you’re using…
The truth behind the labels
As I mentioned last week, olive oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs)—including oleic acid, in particular. It’s also rich in vitamin E and polyphenols. All of these components contribute to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
But to truly take advantage of these components, the quality of that olive oil matters. And production methods make a HUGE difference.
Virgin olive oil, for example, comes from ripe olives that have been mechanically pressed.
The result? Multiple health-boosting components with an acidity below 1.5 percent. Extra-virgin olive oil is even higher in quality, with more flavor and lower acidity, below 1 percent.
(Aside from affecting the flavor, an oil’s acidity is a direct measure of its quality. But, in this case, less is more. The lower the acidity level, the more polyphenols and antioxidants the oil contains.)
Refined or processed olive oil, however—which is what you’ll typically get in any restaurant—contains fewer phytochemicals that are lost during processing. In fact, any olive oil labeled as “pure” or “light” usually contains more than 80 percent refined oil, with just a little virgin oil added back to boost flavor.
Shocked? Well, don’t be.
The food industry has always been diabolical in its efforts to misinform and mislead the public into eating “healthy” products that are anything but.
In many cases, these products aren’t even fit for consumption! (Learn more in the November 2019 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives [“How Big Food’s favorite marketing ploy is hurting consumers, animals, and the environment”]. Not yet a subscriber? Click here to become one.)
You get what you pay for
Of course, olive oil labeling regulations are a big part of the problem here.
Some manufacturers blend refined and virgin oils to bump up the acidity level so that they can slap an “extra virgin” label on the bottle. Others send their product to Italy for bottling so that their label can claim, “Product of Italy.” And others “water down” their extra virgin oil with cheap oil.
In fact, previous reports on common supermarket brands have shown that nearly 70 percent of imported olive oils didn’t pass quality standards. Neither did 10 percent of California oils, in particular.
But don’t get discouraged: Good, quality olive oil does exist. It just doesn’t come cheap.
If you’re going to use olive oil, opt for extra-virgin or estate-bottled varieties packaged in glass containers.
Extra-virgin means the oil was only cold-pressed once. Estate-bottled oils are made from olives grown on one property alone, located in a cool climate. In these settings, the olives are picked right before they ripen. They’re also milled within three to four hours after harvest. And they’re minimally processed.
These processes make both varieties the healthiest—these oils have the lowest acidity level you can get.
In other words, you really do get what you pay for. But for all of the impressive health benefits—including significantly slashing all-cause mortality rate, cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegenerative disease, and respiratory disease—I’d still call it a bargain.
“Olive Oil Intake Tied to Reduced Mortality.” Medscape Medical News, 01/10/2022. (medscape.com/viewarticle/966366)