The world of Olive Oil

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On my journey to creating healthier changes in my little family, I came across the world of olive oil. We were running out of olive oil at our house so I started to look at different brands and types of olive oil. Holy cow! This is a huge topic of conversation. Bigger than I or thought.  However, I don’t go into a lot of depth (this would of been a huge post. even multiple postings), just the basics. I pretty much just skimmed the top of this topic, there’s so much too it. I added sources and articles at the bottom of the page. It’s very fascinating. But I just wanted to know (coming from reliable sources) what would be the best for my family. What we normally do is get whatever is on sale (normally Kroger brand). But that’s about to change.

Every company has their own versions of pretty much everything. Apart of my journey is finding the right products and that are actually made the way that they should be made. I look at the company and sustainability as well.  I want the truth in the items that I’m buying. Are they going to benefit me? What’s the right way to use it? How is it made and how it should be made? What’s the history? I want the facts and science. And ya know what? It’s extremely fun finding all of it out.

I had four main questions going into this little research project: what are the differences between oils, how to shop for it, health benefits, and a couple of cooking tips.

I came across an interesting article in Bon Appetite magazine, “How to Buy Olive Oil: A Beginners Guide”. I was very excited when I found this article. It was very easy to read and informative. The article states that extra-virgin is the highest standard for olive oil. To even be considered extra-virgin, the oil must not have any defects and must be unrefined (meaning not treated with chemicals or heat.). So extra-virgin is the way to go.  When you see “light” on the bottle it means it’s been treated and refined. Another good pointer, is to read the label. A lot of bottles will say that it’s imported from Italy. To look for the true country of origin, look for: It=Italy, TN=Tunisia, PT= Portugal, GR= Greece (on the back of the bottle). The best oils will come from a single origin.

***fun fact! Olive oil was prone to something called food fraud. This is a real thing folks. A large percent of imported oil in the U.S. is actually diluted with cheaper, highly refined oils (soybean,corn, and canola).

Another important factor with buying olive oil is the bottle it comes in. When buying your oil, pick a dark glass or metal, opaque bottle. Exposure to heat and light will make your oil go rancid. An open bottle will only be good for about two months.

Okay, so I now know how to pick my olive oil out and what to look for. But what about the truth in benefits???  Is it really healthy? The Mediterranean diet is getting a lot of attention in the media.  Anything that’s a fad should put you on alert. People automatically link olive oil to a healthy lifestyle. Yes, olive oil is a healthy oil, but it is not the only healthy ingredient in the Mediterranean diet. This “diet” consists of beautiful vegetables, fish, nuts, and physical activity. The “diet” does cut our risk of heart disease not just the oil.

The interest in olive oil benefits  started from a study called “Seven Countries Study”. This study observed that the men in Greece, had low intakes of saturated fats had the lowest rates of heart disease. But there could be other factors such as their actual diets. Mostly plant-based, moderate amounts of fish and wine, with a lot of physical activity. Take also into account that Japan was also in this study and they consume no olive oil in their diets.  But the Japanese also had low rates of heart disease as well. An article from Harvard, states that olive oil has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties add benefits that go past cholesterol lowering. Keep in mind, olive oil is not the only healthy ingredient in the Mediterranean Diet.

How does one actually use olive oil in cooking? Berkeley Wellness ,  gave great advice for cooking with olive oil. The key thing to keep in mind is the smoke point. At the high temperature, the oil starts to break down and smoke. The smoke point for extra-virgin olive oil is 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Choose a refined oil with a high smoke point (the more refined the higher the smoke point), aka; not the expensive stuff.

So which one did I end up going with?

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After doing my research, I went with California Olive Ranch. Once I opened this bottle, I fell in love. The smell is amazing and so is the taste. I’ve never had olive oil like this. I love the fact that this was made in California and it’s also affordable. I love that the company is sustainable. The website talks about how they use the Earth’s resources, such as tree trimmings for mulch, reusing water from the mill, and recycled packaging. I’ve only tried the Everyday olive oil, but I can’t wait to try the others. Check out their website, they have tons of information and recipes.

I’d love to know what oil you use.  Let me know!

sources

How to buy Olive Oil: A Beginners Guide

International Olive Council

Olive Oil Times

Berkeley Wellness

California Olive Ranch

California Olive Oil Council

articles of interest

California Extra-Virgin Olive Oils/America’s Test Kitchen

The Best Supermarket Extra-Virgin Olive Oil/Cook’s Illustrated

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