By Kris Gunners, Well Being Journal, Vol. 23, No. 4.
Olive oil, part of the Mediterranean diet, is a traditional fat that has been a dietary staple for some of the world’s healthiest populations. There is actually quite a bit of research proving the health effects of olive oil. These research studies show that the fatty acids and antioxidants in it have some powerful health benefits, such as a reduced risk of heart disease.*
What is Olive Oil and How is it Made?
Olive oil is pressed from olives, the fruits of the olive tree. Extracting it is incredibly simple, you just press the olives and the oil comes out. But there is one major problem with olive oil: it isn’t always what you think it is. Some lower quality versions can be extracted using chemicals, or even diluted with other cheaper oils.
Therefore, buying the right type of olive oil is incredibly important. The best type is extra virgin olive oil, which is the oil you get after the first pressing of the olives. It is extracted with a natural method and standardized for purity and certain savory qualities like taste and smell. Olive oil that is truly extra virgin has a distinctive taste and is high in phenolic antioxidants, which is the main reason why olive oil is so beneficial.
Regular, refined or “light” olive oils, have often been extracted with solvents, treated with heat or even diluted with cheaper oils such as soybean and canola.
For this reason, the only type I recommend is extra virgin olive oil. There is a lot of fraud going on in the olive oil market, and it is essential to buy from a reputable seller. Even oil that is labeled as “extra virgin” may have been adulterated with cheaper oils. If you want to read more about the olive oil fraud and what you can do to find real extra virgin olive oil, see the article “Would the Real Olive Oil Please Stand Up?” at www.phoenixhelix.com.
Bottom Line: Real “extra virgin” olive oil is 100 percent natural and very high in phenolic antioxidants. Many of the lower quality olive oils have been processed and adulterated with cheaper oils.
To read the full article, author bio, and references see the Vol. 23, No.4, July/August 2014 (available in print or digital format) of the Well Being Journal.