The olive oil you’re buying probably isn’t as healthy as you think.
About 70% of the olive oil Americans buy isn’t extra virgin, David Neuman, CEO of Greek olive oil company Gaea‘s US division, told Business Insider.
“Since olive oil became so popular there isn’t enough of the good stuff to go around,” Neuman said. “Even if there were, many consumers aren’t willing to pay for it.
As a result, the majority of olive oil Americans buy isn’t from Italy or extra virgin as advertised.
“Americans are addicted to cheap products,” Neuman said. “But people should know the risks of consuming subpar olive oil.”
Extra virgin olive oil is made by crushing olives and extracting the juice and has no additives or other ingredients.
Ideally, olives are pressed for oil within hours of harvest. Cheap olive oil is often made from rotted olives that are less healthy for humans.
Nutrition experts rave that extra virgin olive oil is packed with antioxidants, such as the anti-inflammatory oleocanthal and asoleuropein, which is linked to healthy cholesterol.
But Neuman warns that many cheaper oils don’t have these benefits, and can even be harmful.
Costco recently started buying Greek olive oil to ensure better quality.
Italy imports most of its olives from Greece, meaning the product must travel before its pressed. Oil made in Greece is probably fresher.
Neuman offered a few tips for buying healthy olive oil.
- Make sure only one country is listed as the source. If the label says “product of Italy” or “imported from Greece,” it means that the olives used were probably fresh. If multiple countries are listed, chances are the olives were imported and might have rotted.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Neuman says if a 17 oz. bottle of olive oil is cheaper than $US10, it’s probably not good quality.
- Trust your instincts. Tasting olive oil is important, Neuman says. If the olive oils tastes grassy, bitter, or peppery, go with another brand the next time you buy.
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