Make sure you're getting all the health benefits of olive oil by choosing the best bottle.
Olive oil is one of the most important items in my pantry. I use it to cook just about everything. As you may be aware, olive oil is a monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), considered a very healthy dietary fat. It’s been found to lower blood cholesterol and normalize blood clotting.
Olive oil also contains polyphenols, potent antioxidants that reduce degenerative diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Some studies have even found that olive oil normalizes insulin levels. But not all olive oils are created equal. Here’s what you need to know when choosing olive oil.
1. Drizzle versus cooking oils.
Some olive oils are made to be drizzled on top of foods with a dash of sea salt, while others are made for cooking. For example, really high-end olive oils with bright, grassy flavors might be better drizzled on bruschetta. While it’s still important to cook with a high quality olive oil, you don’t want to spend $40 per bottle if you go through a bottle per week. For this reason, you might want to buy a variety for both uses so you’re not wasting super pricey oil in cooking.
2. Choose extra virgin olive oils.
Extra virgin olive oil is made by crushing the olives and extracting the juicy green goodness without any added chemicals or industrial refining. Virgin olive oil is more acidic and does not meet these requirements. Make sure that when you’re at the store, you choose extra virgin olive oil. Cold pressed is another indicator that no heat was added in processing. Heating can reduce the number of polyphenols or antioxidants, present in the oil. However, all extra virgin olive oil is produced this way.
3. Look at the type of container.
If light enters the olive oil, it can cause it to photo-oxidize and taste rancid. So make sure that your olive oil comes in a dark tinted bottle to protect the flavor. Once you have purchased your oil, make sure to store it away from heat and light.
4. Look at where the olive oil is sourced.
If you’re concerned where the olives are grown, look to see which country the oil is a “product of”. “Imported from” and “packed in” indicates where the olives were bottled or exported from. Some people think that the best olive oil comes from Italy. And while Italy does produce some amazing olive oil, it also produces some low tier varieties. My favorite olive oil, McEvoy Ranch, actually comes from Petaluma, Calif.
5. Choose organic.
Organic olives are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, which is important to me especially in a product that I’m going to use so often. It’s just one more assurance that you’re buying a high quality product with the abundant health benefits of olive oil.
Related on Organic Authority
Image of olive oil bottle from Shuttershock