Is Your Olive Oil Fake? Choosing Quality Oil
By Sarah Axtell, ND • October 12, 2018
The consensus is that olive oil is healthy BUT buyer beware! Recent studies show low quality oils, such as soy or canola oil, and artificial coloring are labeled as extra-virgin olive oils to the American public. In the United States, the FDA does not routinely test imported olive oil for adulteration.
When choosing olive oil, here are some tips:
1. Choose olive oil in a dark glass bottle that protects against light. Olive oil can go rancid easily.
2. If possible, taste your oil before buying. Specialty olive oil stores and oil bars are becoming more common.
When it comes to taste, you want it to be peppery or slightly spicy. These are indicators of the presence of healthy antioxidants, such as oleocanthal*. Oleocanthal accounts for olive oils peppery or somewhat spicy taste. If you notice a spicy feeling in the back of your throat upon consuming olive oil, you can rest assure you have a good quality oil.
*Oleocanthal posseses anti-inflammatory properties, similar to that of NSAID’s (but without the gut-destroying effects of ibuprofen, for example). It has also been demonstrated that oleocanthal can help the brain clear itself of the amyloid plaque, the hallmark sticky protein in Alzheimer’s disease.
3. Choose “extra virgin,” which is the highest quality grade of olive oil. “Pure” or “light” oil means that olive oil has undergone chemical refinement which strips away olive flavors and many of the oil’s health benefits.
4. Unlike wine, olive oil does not get better with age. Olive oil can go rancid easily. Try to buy oils from this year’s harvest. “Best by” dates are usually two years after an oil was bottled, so if you see a date that is two years away, the oil is more likely to be fresh.
5. The North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) is the trade association of the olive oil importers in the US. The NAOOA tests samples and offers a Certified Quality Seal Program as a way to recognize and promote olive oils that measure up to the industry’s standards of excellence. Here is a list of common brands that make the mark according to the NAOOA.
Among the list, I like Trader Joe’s 100% Greek Kalamata olive oil best. It is fresh and slightly spicy, which means it is high in the antioxidant oleocanthal.
If you shop at Whole Foods, the California 365 is the one to get.
Remember olive oil is best used for cold salads (not for high heat). And avoid vegetable oils at all cost! Here is more info on the dangers of vegetable oils.
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.