Madonna Mia! The “Mob” has apparently realized that there is gold to be found in the olive oil business. Authentic extra-virgin olive oil takes a lot of time, expense, and labor to make. On the flip side, it’s quick, cheap, and easy to doctor it. So enter the “Boys” who have have been involved in scamming us by selling canola oil disguised as the far more healthy and expensive option, olive oil.
After all these years of purchasing what was believed to be the ” healthy” cooking oil instead of the muck used at fast food dives, we conceivably have been had! Okay, so maybe not all the oil we’ve purchased was compromised, but by many estimates at least half of it was.
An official investigation into the matter came to the conclusion that four out of five bottles of olive oil are indeed at the very least compromised with cheap alternative oils. Four out of five…WOW, what are the odds that anyone of us has been had?
The most common form of adulteration comes from mixing extra virgin olive oil with cheaper, lower-grade oils. Sometimes, it’s an oil from an altogether different source — like canola oil or colza oil. Other times, they blend extra virgin olive oil with a poorer quality olive oil. The blended oil is then chemically deodorized, colored, and possibly even flavored and sold as “extra-virgin” oil to a producer. In other words, if you find a major brand name olive oil is fake, it probably isn’t the brand’s fault. Rather, it’s their supplier’s.
According to author Tom Mueller’s book “Extra Virginity“ more than half of all olive oil is either completely composed of low quality canola and soy bean oils, or contains some percentage of actual olive oil which is then debased with the aforementioned cheaper canola and soy alternatives. You really have to give Tom credit for not being fearful of “swimming with the fish” by exposing one of the mobs illegal money pipelines especially when you realize that the Italian olive oil export industry is worth over 4 billion dollars.,,,yes BILLION!
Why is real Olive Oil important to the Paleo Diet?
The health benefits of olive oil are likely due to its unique combination of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) and polyphenols, also called phenolic antioxidants. Both MUFAs and polyphenols are associated with diverse health benefits including decreased risk factors for heart disease, decreased risk for cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s as well as improved symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis. It’s no wonder olive oil finds itself in the research spotlight. Let’s take a closer look.
Heart Disease: Olive oil intake reduces generalized inflammation as shown by decreased levels of C-reactive protein. Olive oil has also been shown to decrease oxidative damage to LDL cholesterol particles, decrease blood pressure, and improve arterial (blood vessel) function.
Cancer: Oxidative damage by free radicals that can lead to the proliferation of cancer cells is mitigated by both olive oil’s oleic acid and phenolic antioxidants. Furthermore, studies have shown that oleic acid may fight cancer development on a genetic level by altering gene expression.
Diabetes: MUFA rich olive oil is associated with weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity and improved carbohydrate metabolism.
Osteoporosis: Olive oil polyphenols have been shown to increase the concentration of total osteocalcin and other bone formation markers as well as the activity of osteoblasts.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: The polyphenol oleocanthal, prevents the production of pro-inflammatory enzymes the same way ibuprofen does, decreasing pain and stiffness. MUFAs are also associated with decreased symptoms.
Alzheimer’s: In mice, oleocanthal derived from extra-virgin olive oil was shown to remove beta-amyloid plaque from the brain.
How to Select and Store Olive Oil
There are several grades of olive oil denoting quality. “Extra virgin olive oil” (EVOO) contains the highest concentration of polyphenols and the best flavor. EVOO is from the first pressing of the olives. No solvents are used and if heat is applied, the delicate flavor along with the integrity of the oil must not be altered. If EVOO is cold pressed, the pressing is slow to generate minimal heat, which preserves flavor. EVOO can only contain up to 0.8% acidity. “Virgin olive oil” is also from the first pressing but contains up to 2% acidity and the flavor is not quite as good as EVOO. “Refined olive oil” has undergone processing that may include heat, solvents and/or filtration to improve the flavor and aroma of poor quality oil. “Olive oil” used to be called “pure olive oil” and is a blend of refined olive oil and virgin olive oil. Blends are typically used in foods labeled “packed in olive oil.” “Olive pomace oil” is refined and used commercially. “Lite”, “light” and “mild” olive oil refers to oil that has undergone fine filtration to remove most of the natural color, aroma and flavor.
Whether you’re cooking with olive oil, using it as a finisher, making dips and dressings or simply drizzling it over food, high quality olive oil is essential to ensuring its integrity and therefore its health benefits. Here are some important things to look for when choosing high quality olive oil:
- Buy extra virgin olive oil in a dark bottle that’s been cold pressed.
- Make sure there’s a harvest date and don’t confuse this with the best buy date, which is calculated from the date the oil is bottled. After pressing, the olive oil may have been sitting around in storage for a long time going rancid before bottling. Buy your olive oil within six months to a year of the harvest date.
- Know where your olive oil comes from. Unfortunately, many European olive oils sold on American shelves are actually blends of lower quality oils, which are sometimes not even olive oil at all! A high quality grower will name the region the olives come from.
- A really good olive oil will list the cultivars, or those olives the oil is composed of.
- Look for a seal of approval, which certifies truth in product quality. Two major seals to look for are the California Olive Oil Council (COOC), and the International Olive Oil Council (IOOC).
- If you’d like to avoid the possible use of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides, buy organic olive oil.
Olive oil will keep for about one year if stored in a sealed container in a cool dark cupboard. You can refrigerate olive oil, which does not alter the quality but may alter the taste. Olive oil solidifies in cold temperatures and to return it to liquid, simply place the bottle in warm water for a few minutes.
How can you tell if your oil’s fake?
Unfortunately, you can’t simply go by taste alone. So, if you can’t go by taste alone, how can you tell?
First, extra-virgin olive oil ought to be comprised of mostly monounsaturated fat that grows more solid when cold. If you put a real extra-virgin olive oil in the refrigerator, it ought to become thick and cloudy as it cools completely (some oils made from high-wax olive varieties will even solidify). It should be noted, however, that this is not a fail-proof test. That’s because adulterated oils may also become thick and cloudy in the refrigerator. After all, some adulterated extra-virgin olive oils are cut with low-grade, refined olive oil. Those would still clump up. Other adulterated extra-virgin olive oils are cut with just enough of the cheaper oils that they’ll still be mostly olive oil, so they’ll have some clumping, too. If, however, the oil you put in the fridge fails to thicken at all (still appearing as clear and runny as it did at room temperature), then you know something certain: that it’s fake!
Second, extra-virgin olive oil ought to be flammable enough to keep an oil lamp burning. Again, this isn’t a fail-proof test, and for the same reasons. But, it is certain that if your so-called “extra virgin olive oil” doesn’t keep a wick burning, it isn’t extra-virgin at all, but instead contains refined oils.