There is an overwhelming amount of different olive oils available on the market. They can vary in aroma, taste, acidity, color, and price.
But is there a difference between these variations? Do you know what to look for when choosing a quality olive oil?
Olive oil is graded based on the process that was used to extract the oil. The grades include extra-virgin olive oil, virgin olive oil, pure olive oil, and light olive oil.
Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is not only the best grade, but also the highest-quality olive oil that you can buy. To be labeled as "extra-virgin", the oil must meet very specific standards by the International Olive Council (IOC).
EVOO is extracted from olives through a process called cold pressing (see image to the right). This means that the oil is extracted using only pressure, and no heat or chemicals (which destroy nutrients) are used in the pressing process. Therefore, EVOO tends to have a superior taste and a lower acidity level. When it comes to olive oil, the lower the acidity, the higher the quality. In order to be labeled as an extra-virgin olive oil, the oil should have an acidity level of less than 0.8%.
However, even with EVOO, you may not always be getting what you think. In the past couple of years, many studies have shown that some of the major EVOO brands do not actually meet the standards established by European regulators. The U.S. International Trade Commission published a report in 2013, explaining that these standards are widely unenforced.
This is why it's important to do your research to ensure that you are purchasing a good quality EVOO.
At Functional Fueling
Nutrition, we believe in healing foods. That is why we only recommend Kasandrinos Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (code: "ffueling" to save). This quality EVOO exceeds all standards of quality assurance, with an acidity level of 0.4%. To view the results of their chemical analysis, you can visit their website for more information.
Health Benefits of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil is rich in a healthy monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. Research shows that this fatty acid can reduce serum C-Reactive Protein (CRP), which is produced by the liver in response to inflammation in the body.
This is important because chronic inflammation plays a major role in many diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and arthritis.
Contains Powerful Antioxidants
The major phenolic compounds in Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, and tyrosol, are strong antioxidants and radical scavengers.
These antioxidants can protect LDL cholesterol, or "bad cholesterol", from becoming oxidized by free radicals. Oxidized LDL can lead to tissue damage, inflammation, plaque buildup, and blood clotting. One study even found that the LDL susceptibility to oxidation was significantly reduced after only one week of including olive oil in the diet!
Did You Know that most salad dressings contain partially-hydrogenated oils that are inflammatory?
Ditch the store-bought dressing and Make Your Own EVOO Salad Dressing!
The monounsaturated fats in a quality extra-virgin olive oil can provide the most efficient absorption of carotenoids, which are pigments with powerful antioxidant activity found in fruits and vegetables.
To make a healthy and delicious salad dressing in no time, simply blend or whisk together the ingredients below. You can also get creative and make your own! The possibilities are endless.
These vinaigrettes can be prepared ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week!
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil has a relatively low "smoke point", which is the temperature at which the oil breaks down and loses its health benefits. However, this doesn't mean that you can't cook with it at all! EVOO is great for light sautéing or baking, as long as the temperature is kept below 350 degrees F.
Try Kasandrinos Extra-Virgin Olive Oil today and experience the difference. Use code "ffueling" at checkout to save!
How do you like to use your extra-virgin olive oil?
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Fuel More Functionally, Erika