Olive Oil Health Benefits | Five Methods To Ensure You Buy The Highest Quality Olive Oil

Akash Sehrawat

5 min read | Aug 20, 2020

Olive oil is extracted from olives, the fruits of olive trees. Types of olive oil on the market include lampante, extra virgin, virgin, pomace, refined, organic, and stone-milled. With so many varieties, deciding which olive oil to buy can get confusing.

Types Of Olive Oil


Extra Virgin Olive Oil


The term extra virgin refers to the first extract from cold pressing of olives. Cold-pressed technology preserves the nutrients in the olives, whereas heat processing destroys them. Cold pressing of olives is usually done mechanically without any heat or chemical solvents.


It is also done at room temperature, which not only preserves the nutrient value of olives but also keeps the acid value relatively low. This process helps retain the flavor and taste of the extracted oil, which is ideal from a health perspective.


It’s important to note that not all extra virgin olive oils are created equal! The quality of the oil is as good as the quality of olives, where they are grown and how they are grown, harvested, transported, and finally processed, packaged, and bottled.


But overall, it’s safe to say that extra virgin olive oil is much better in terms of quality than any other variety.


Therefore, if your prime purpose is to buy olive oil for consumption, i.e., sautéing or to use as a dressing oil, you should definitely opt for extra virgin olive oil. People also buy olive oil to apply to their skin, hair, etc.


Virgin Olive Oil


Virgin olive oil comes from the second pressing of the olives. It can be either cold pressed or heat processed. The use of chemical solvents and other physical treatments may vary from brand to brand.


Refined Olive Oil


Refined olive oil is made by heat processing the third extract of olives. Chemical agents and solvents are used to refine the oil. If a label simply says ‘olive oil’ or ‘pure olive oil,’ it is not extra virgin. Instead, it is treated with heat and chemical agents.


Pomace Olive Oil


Pomace is the ground flesh left after the extraction process. The flesh and pits are processed with chemical solvents and other physical treatments to make them edible. Olive-pomace oil is a blend of virgin olive oil and pomace oil.

Five Methods To Ensure You Buy The Highest Quality Olive Oil


Choosing an olive oil brand can be quite a daunting task! This is because big brands and supermarkets are savvy marketers who want to maximize their profits.


Branding, attractive packaging, health claims, a product’s position on the supermarket shelf, price, and even a celebrity promoting a brand can all convince an average consumer to buy inferior products.


There are very few companies and brands that have your best interests in mind and provide superior quality for a good price. Overall, it’s safe to say that extra virgin olive oil is more expensive than other varieties.


Basically, you get what you pay for!


Having said that, the purpose of this article is to ensure that you get the best product for the money you pay. With this in mind, let me give you five key factors to help you select the best olive oil.


The Five Factors


1) Cold Pressed Or Heat Processed


‘Cold pressed’ should appear on the bottle’s label. Good companies will proudly mention this. Cold-press technology ensures most of the nutrients in the olives remain in the oil.


2) Age


Unlike wine, olive oil does not mature well. Look for the pressing date. Usually, you should consume the oil within one year of pressing. It’s also important to keep the oil in a cool place in the kitchen that is away from light. It’s also a very good idea to consume oil within 1-2 months of buying it.


3) Color


First, the bottle should be dark in color. This is to protect the oil inside from direct light. Light can make the oil go rancid over time, so a dark bottle, usually dark green, is preferable.


Next, the color of the olive oil signifies which nutrients are present in what amount. For example, a deep gold-green color denotes a high level of chlorophyll, whereas a yellow-gold color signifies a higher concentration of carotenoids. Most refined olive oil has a light yellow color.


4) Smell


Extra virgin olive oil has a strong smell, i.e., pungent and earthy. On the other hand, refined olive oil is characterized by a mild or even a neutral scent.


5) Taste


I am a novice when it comes to tasting oils, but a few distinct characteristics suggest that the oil is of good quality. The taste will also vary based on the condition of olives at the time they were extracted. If you can taste the oil before buying it, that is ideal. But most supermarkets do offer tasting before buying.


For example, when you extract a ripe olive, the oil usually has a fruity and pungent flavor. Whereas green olives (not ripe) will make the oil quite bitter and will have an after-taste.


In fact, the flavor can be so intense that it may even scratch your throat a little bit once you taste it. The last three factors can only be tested after you have purchased the bottle. Over time, you will become a kind of expert in smelling and tasting and will know how to find the highest quality olive oil. 🙂


Now, let’s look at the health benefits of olive oil. It’s important to note most of the health benefits only come from the extra virgin variety.

Health Benefits Of Olive Oil


Olive Oil Is Anti-Inflammatory & Can Also Act As An Antioxidant


Antioxidants are molecules that donate a pair of electrons to free radicals and render them harmless. The antioxidant agents in olive oil are oleuropein (OL) and hydroxytyrosol (HT). OL and HT offer a wide spectrum of benefits, mainly related to antioxidant activity. They have a high bioavailability, meaning they are readily absorbed. 1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4237885/


Olive oil is approximately 73% oleic acid, a type of monounsaturated fatty acid. Studies show oleic acid reduces an inflammatory marker called C-reactive protein (CRP). 2https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21443487/


Olive Oil Helps Reduce The Risk Of Heart Disease


A large study involving 841,211 subjects concluded an overall 12% reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality and 17% reduced risk of stroke in subjects who consumed olive oil. 3https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4198773/


In 2015, a systematic review and meta-analysis by Lukas Schwingshacki et al. suggested a Mediterranean diet, where a key ingredient is olive oil, has beneficial effects on markers of inflammation and endothelial function. 4https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4586551/


Yet another study suggested olive oil had a small beneficial effect on systolic blood pressure. 5https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26055128/ A 2015 study showed that high consumption of olive oil is associated with a lower incidence of stroke in older subjects. 6https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21676914/


There are a few studies, including some animal studies, that show a positive association between olive oil and reduced risks of cancer, type-2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. However, evidence is still inconclusive, and more human trials are needed before solid claims can be made in this regard.

Conclusion And My Recommendations


Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil is the best olive oil you can buy to ensure the health benefits discussed above. It’s important to note that extra virgin olive oil has a low smoke point compared with more stable oils such as ghee or coconut oil.


Therefore, my recommendation is to use olive oil as a dressing oil. You can, however, use it for baking and occasionally to cook eggs or sauté vegetables, though when it comes to cooking, my advice is to use ghee or coconut oil.


Related Articles: 


Is Ghee Good For Health?


Coconut Oil Good Or Bad?


What do you think about this article? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments below!

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About Akash Sehrawat

Akash is a creator of 25+ programs and certificate courses in which more than 200,000 students have enrolled both on Udemy and Fabulous Body's native platform. Akash is also an author of three books that can be found on Amazon. His answers on Quora have gathered more than 12 million views in less than a year.


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