While olive oil is typically regarded as healthy cooking oil, not all olive oils are created equally. Here’s what I look for in quality olive oil, and why I cook with olive oil.
In my first book, Made Whole I recommended that olive oil not be used for high heat cooking because they can be sensitive to heat, well, while that holds true for many monounsaturated fats, extra virgin olive oil is the exception and I will tell you why below.
In my next book, Made Whole Made Simple, I cook mostly with olive oil and cover all the benefits too. Let’s give into those!
Is olive oil good for you?
The short answer: yes.
Olive oil has been used for centuries to add healthy fats, flavor, and create all different kinds of textures in a recipe, from crispy to silky, and beyond. Olive oil works for sweet and savory recipes; you can use olive oil in various cuisines for all different types of cooking methods.
Extra virgin olive oil is a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, and when sourced well and stored properly, EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) is one of the healthiest things you can eat. Olive oil is high in polyphenols, which are protective micronutrients and powerful antioxidants. It’s cardioprotective, resists oxidation, and has a high smoke point. For more benefits of olive oil, check out this post. In other words, the high polyphenol content of olive oil not only prevents the fat from oxidizing but protects the food your cooking with it too.
Delicate polyunsaturated fats (omega 3 and omega 6) in grass-fed beef and fish, which are imperative for a healthy inflammatory response, can oxidate during the cooking process. Coating your food in olive oil will protect the delicate fats and keep them from becoming carcinogenic!
What to look for in an olive oil
So much of the store-bought olive oil is fake! Yes, many of the oils sold in supermarkets (especially the cheap ones) are actually canola oil mixed with olive oil. Always read labels and check the source carefully!
If you’re wondering how to choose quality olive oil, here are some quick tips …
Taste and Smell
Real olive oil will taste fresh, a bit fruity, pungent, and slightly peppery on the back of your throat, which may make you feel like you need to cough. This feeling is actually a sign that your olive oil is high in polyphenols. Along with a fresh taste, your olive oil should be fragrant, but not musty. Any vinegar or wine flavor is a sign that the oil has fermented, and that’s not a good thing for olive oil.
Olive oil should only be stored in a dark glass bottle. Dark, to keep light from compromising the quality of the oil, and glass instead of plastic, which can contaminate the oil.
100% extra virgin olive oil is what people typically look for, but I recommend also looking for cold-pressed olive oil, made from Greek olives. Cold-pressed olive oil means that the oil never exceeds 80 degrees during processing. You’ll also want to look for an organic label, and paleo certified is an added bonus.
The best olive oil
This olive oil is an easy choice because it meets all of my standards and tastes amazing. 100% extra virgin olive oil, cold-pressed from California olives, in a dark glass bottle. Boom. It’s an award-winning brand that started in Australia and now also produces EVOO in California! You can buy it online, but I love that I also find it at my local Wegman’s!
Some of my favorite olive oil recipes
I use olive oil a LOT because it’s excellent cooking oil.