Cold pressing and 100% pure ingredients are the key factors to reaping the cardiovascular benefits of extra virgin olive oil
By now, you may have heard about the numerous benefits of consuming extra-virgin olive oil on a daily basis. From moisturizing and protecting skin and hair, to better mental performance, and a strengthened immune system – modern day nutritionists consider olive oil a miracle food.
Not all EVOO is created equal
Believe it or not, olive oil is among the world’s foods with the longest history. Olive trees are native to Africa, the Middle East and the Mediterranean, virtually mirroring the path of humankind and the development of early civilization.
The process of cold pressing olives to extract this versatile plant-based oil dates back 3,000 years. Early records show olive oil was valued as a food, a medicine, and even a lamp fuel by our ancestors.
Over time, olive trees were introduced to new geographical areas as society settled in distant lands. In the U.S., the majority of EVOO is imported from Spain or Italy.
Unfortunately, worldwide product labeling is not well regulated. It is estimated that much of the EVOO sold in the U.S. under the label “extra-virgin” is adulterated in some way that reduces or cancels the health benefits and downgrades the flavor as well, according to author Tom Mueller in his book Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil.
Official EVOO is only produced through cold pressing – specifically during the olives’ first press – and has just 1% acid. This level of purity is shown to give the finest, fruitiest flavor, said Timothy Harlan, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine at Tulane in his book, Just Tell Me What to Eat!
In comparison, Harlan said “virgin” olive oil, which also comes from the first press, contains about 3% acid.
Check labels carefully
In today’s grocery aisle, you must read package labels carefully, and it’s no different when it comes to EVOO. Two key warning signs are products without a harvest date and labels that say “packaged” in a certain country, which doesn’t necessarily mean the olives were “grown” there.
True EVOO has a shelf life of only 18 to 24 months – manufacturers can ruin the integrity of pure olive oil by adding preservatives or using heating processes to unnaturally extend the life of their products.
Likewise, a company that is only “packaging” in certain countries to impress or “fool” buyers under the guise of “quality” may also not have your best interests at heart.
Experts advise consumers to look for products in darker bottles, as that is a natural way to increase shelf life. Other good signs are labels that state “cold pressed” and indicate the EVOO was produced by a reputable family company or farm.
If you see the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) or the International Olive Council (IOC) listed, these are organizations that verify the contents of a bottle actually meet olive oil standards.
The truth is in the flavor
Of course, if you want to be absolutely certain you are enjoying fresh, healthy, pure EVOO – visit us at O’Live A Little at Evergreen Walk in South Windsor, CT.
Our extra-virgin olive oils are infused with delicious, aromatic, all-natural flavors – and they all meet the highest NAOOA and IOC industry standards. Talk to one of our flavor experts and learn more through your own tasting experience.
There are a few simple factors that can help you spot the “good stuff”. Visually, you can pour a few table spoons on a white plate or dish: The consistency of the oil should be smooth, yet it should be thicker than corn oil and vegetable oil.
Now smell the oil. Surprise, true EVOO should smell like olives. Note: Olive oil that has passed its shelf life may smell “rancid” or spoiled.
When EVOO hits your palette it should have a smooth finish on the tongue and it should also give a slight burn to the back of your throat.
The burn is actually caused by the polyphenols, a healthy antioxidant found in fresh oils that is the active ingredient credited with cardiovascular benefits, has been shown to fight certain cancers, and provides a myriad of other healthy side effects.
To reap these health rewards, it is recommended you enjoy one or two tablespoons of uncooked EVOO every day.
So, if you want to sample a variety of healthful olive oil options, we hope to see you soon at O’Live A Little. Order online at www.olivealittle.com.