Choose olive oil with caution

Nutrition and productivity blog 35

Olives and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) are often associated with the health and longevity of the Mediterranean people. Olives are rich in the anti-oxidant polyphenols (including olecanthal, a protector against Alzheimer’s disease) and a plethora of compounds that reduce inflammation. As antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds are important for brain health, good olives and olive oil products are want you to eat to get on top of your game. That said, buying good quality olive oil that packs these benefits in is not so straight forward.

The pitfalls with buying olive oil

Some of the olive oils on the supermarket shelf aren’t the best quality, and there could be several reasons for this:

  • Olive oil is often mixed with an unhealthy vegetable oil or mixed with refined olive oil.
  • Olives and olive oil go rancid over time. How ripe the olives are to begin with and how long between harvest to hitting the supermarket shelf is important. Some companies have reportedly used rancid olives or mix new batches of oil with older batches.
  • Some oils are stored and transported in ways that allow oxidation of fats and other nutrients.

Extra virgin olive oil is the one to go for, but even then you want to exercise care in what you select.

How to select the best EVOO

  1. Choose extra virgin olive oil that is not mixed with refined olive oils or vegetable oils. The refining of oils creates a lot of unhealthy oxidised fats and toxins. Mixing these with extra virgin olive oil more than wipes out the health benefits. These olive oils are often labelled as light but even oils labelled as EVOO have been doctored with refined oils.
  2. Choose cold pressed unfiltered oil. This method of processing the oil avoids oxidation of the polyunsaturated fats and retains other nutrients such as polyphenols.
  3. Choose certified organic. Needs no explanation.
  4. Buy oil bottled in dark glass. The dark glass keeps the fats from becoming oxidised and retains antioxidants for longer.
  5. Choose brands with a harvest date or at least a use by date. The nutritional value of olive oil degrades over time – the older the olive oil the more rancid it becomes.
  6. Choose artisanal brands over big brands. Artisanal brands are more likely to use cold pressing than big corporates and are less likely to doctor the olive oil with deodorants or mix it with older batches of olive oil.

Ciao for now,



  1. ‘Oleocanthal, a Phenolic Derived from Virgin Olive Oil: A Review of the Beneficial Effects on Inflammatory Disease’
  2. ‘Oleocanthal’
  3. ‘The Heartbreak of Global Olive Oil Fraud and What to Do About It’
  4. ‘Tests indicate that imported “extra virgin”olive oil often fails international and USDA standards’
  5. ‘List of good fats and oils versus bad’

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