Extra virgin olive oil has grown in popularity over recent years and is full of health benefits. Well known for being rich in antioxidants, olive oil has been proven time and time again to reduce the risk for many serious diseases.
Extra virgin olive oil contains a high level of vitamin E and phenols while the oleic acid helps prevent colon cancer. In fact the less processed the olive oil is, the better for you.
While we have written about many health benefits here
, extra virgin and other olive oils are actually not ideal for cooking because they should really only be used cold or at room temperature.
It is all about keeping olive oil at the right temperature
This is because extra virgin olive oil has a large amount of saturated fats and adding to this, its chemical structure makes the oil very susceptible to oxidative damage. Even when used cold, many people do not realize that it is still extremely perishable. Don't be tempted to keep that bottle in the pantry or out on a shelf as it should actually live in the refrigerator after opening.
All olive oil contains chlorophyll that accelerates decomposition and makes the oil go rancid rather quickly. Most cooks (and including those in restaurants) don't want to go this route because olive oil will solidify after being refrigerated and will have to be lightly heated to bring back to a liquid form or just left out in the kitchen for a short time. It's too labor intensive for most!
For the same reason, it is not ideal to use the extra virgin olive oil in cooking because of the high temperature it generates. Heating this oil above anything but a very low heat will create oxidation, lipid peroxides, and eventually, advanced glycation end products. Research has made this known for for quite some time although not to the general public.
Olive oil has always been the ideal ingredient for dressings, dips and other unheated uses
Many recent articles and television documentaries have another secret about olive oil. Olive oil has become such a large international business that many manufacturers and large international business concerns are cutting corners so that what is advertised as a healthy, extra virgin, organic olive oil from Italy is really a second-rate, cheaper oil purchased by the Italians in Tunisia, Spain, or Greece and imported to the USA as a premium EV, organic olive oil, at inflated prices. Many call it the "Olive Oil Mafia". You can find out more here
How extra virgin oil oil can be doctored
The genuine extra-virgin olive oil takes a lot of time, expense and labor to produce but it is quick, cheap and easy to doctor it.
This is usually done by mixing extra virgin olive oil with cheaper, lower-grade oils either from an altogether different source — like canola oil or colza oil - or by blending extra virgin olive oil with a poorer quality olive oil. The blended oil is then chemically deodorized, colored, and possibly even flavored and sold as “extra-virgin” oil. It may be that even if a major brand name olive oil is found to be fake, it probably isn't the brand’s fault but those next in the chain – such as the suppliers.
But there are good, safe sources
Looking for sources of 100% Pure, Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil? Here some 20 suggestions to look for in the USA, most of which are recommended by the Weston A Price Foundation.
Your genuine extra virgin olive oil is a priceless commodity - look after it with care.
- Napa Valley Naturals
- Nunez de Prado
- Soler Romero
- Chaffin Family
- Essential Living Foods
- Living Tree Alive
- Miller’s Organic Farm
- Mountain Rose Herbs
- Pietro DeMarco
- The Raw Food World
- US Wellness
- Vom Fass
- Frantoia Olive Oil