Olive oil consumption has been found to be effective against cancer, diabetes, heart disease -- even osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s.
See more: Olive Oil Health Benefits
There are a lot of things you can do to live longer -- this one is easy.
Extra virgin and virgin olive oil, like fresh fruit juice, are simply made by crushing olives. Extra virgin tastes better than virgin, hits higher scores in terms of its chemical composition and it has more nutrients.
All other grades, including “olive oil,” “pure" and "light" olive oil are refined, which means they are made in an industrial process using heat and chemicals -- the same process used to make seed oils like canola and sunflower. Refined olive oil, a monounsaturated fat, is still a much healthier choice than seed oils.
Producing extra virgin olive oil, and maintaining its quality is not an easy task and a lot can go wrong along the way. Most ‘extra virgin’ olive oils at your local store will no longer deserve that status by the time they reach your meal, or they never did.
There is only one way to know for sure that you get what you pay for: Learn how to taste olive oil.
More and more cooking schools and online courses are offering lessons on tasting olive oil, but there are also legions of self-taught experts who simply took the time to understand what to look for -- and it’s mostly about using your sense of smell.
A good place to start is that extra virgin olive oil should have the aroma of olives. It can have the fragrance of ripe olives, or less ripe (green) olives. The slightest hint of spoiled fruit, mustiness, vinegar or metallic is a big red flag indicating that something is wrong and you need to move on.
A healthy olive picked fresh off the tree is far too bitter to eat (table olives are soaked in brine before they grace our martinis). But that bitterness is all those nutrients that are so good for you.
So, just like you grew to love bitter dark chocolate and beer, learn to recognize bitterness as a sign of a fresh, healthy extra virgin olive oil. Get used to it. Or, better yet, cherish it.
There’s only so much you can learn about an olive oil without tasting it, but you need to use every tool available. The harvest date used to be the most helpful indication until recently. Now, a “best by” date may be your best bet. Make sure you have some time to enjoy it.
Denominations of origin indicate there are additional quality measures taken, and quality seals can be useful if you know what they stand for. Award stickers for competitions like the New York International Olive Oil Competition (the world’s largest) can also indicate a superior product.
So you've found a nice extra virgin olive oil. Don’t be shy with it, because it won’t stay that way for long. Those sublime flavors of fresh olives and the hints of strawberry leaf and banana will start to go away as the oil undergoes the inevitable process of oxidation that eventually gets us all.
You can keep an unopened bottle in a cool, dark place for a year or more (depending on how fresh it was to begin with). Once you open it, the clock really starts ticking. Use it within a month or two, tops.
Fresh olive oil binds with the flavors of foods and forms a bridge to your taste buds, amplifying and elevating the deliciousness of your creation to heights you never imagined.
We’re not making this stuff up, it’s in the science. That fruit-kissed astringent quality has made EVOO a miracle ingredient and best friend of celebrated chefs throughout the world.
True, there are a lot of great olive oils produced in Spain, Italy and Greece, but award-winning EVOOs were from no less than 18 countries in this year’s New York International Olive Oil Competition (have you had a nice Uruguayan EVOO lately?).
So keep your nationalism in check and open the door to a whole world of heavenly tastes.
Almost every time you would reach for butter or unhealthy seed oils, you can use olive oil instead. Just use the same amount as the recipe calls for other cooking oils and use ¾ tablespoon of olive oil for each tablespoon of butter.
Olive oil is the perfect choice for all the cooking you do.