The Truth Behind Olive Oil

Photo credit: bigstock

Photo credit: bigstock

There is an ugly, nasty little secret going on in your kitchen and it has to do with your olive oil. Yes, the olive oil that you bought because you were interested in better health and wanted to get a little slice of that seductive Mediterranean lifestyle we all hear so much about.  However, that bottle of olive oil is, more than likely, a scam.

Yep, you read that right, a scam. Because that bottle of olive oil most likely has far less olive oil than you thought. It’s been mixed with less expensive types of oils, such as sunflower seed oil, and has simply had added colorants to make it look like olive oil.

This fraud has been going on for centuries and doesn’t appear to be on the way out anytime soon. This is an ugly and unfortunate fact. This is a huge game that many multinational commercial companies play at. It’s also due to politics, those truth in labeling laws, very lax oversight, and underfunded food inspection agencies. It’s also a matter of demand outstripping the supply.

When purchasing olive oil you will need to look for a few things. There are standards that are to be used for pure olive oil. Look for the IOCC label for starters. IOCC is the International Olive Oil Council. You should also look for the words ‘cold pressed’ on the label. This means that the olives were not heated while undergoing the extraction process. This is super important as heating would completely defeat the purpose of using olive oil.

Another thing many people are not aware of is that although olive oil has many health benefits, from its anti-inflammatory properties to its anti-cancer compounds, olive oil is truly one of our best superfoods. But what most people don’t know is that, like Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, olive oil can turn on us when it has been heated. Even at very low temperatures, all those amazing health benefits and good enzymes are destroyed and on top of that, the oil turns itself into a trans-fat. This is one of the worst types of fats you can consume and one of the reasons you probably switched to olive oil to begin with is to avoid all the trans-fat in commercial vegetable oils. Trans-fats dramatically increase your levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol.

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vegetable oils dangerous

Photo credit: bigstock

Even heating olive oil at a low temperature causes this change. On its own, at room temperature, olive is great. Use it in salad dressings, as a dip for bread, or drizzle it over veggies for a unique flavor.

By now you are probably saying ‘What the heck do I cook with, then?’  There is another oil that is just great for cooking, coconut oil. Coconut oil is completely natural, very healthy oil that can be heated in high temperatures without breaking down or turning into a trans-fat. You might have heard that coconut oil is loaded with saturated fats and that is true, but it’s a healthy type of saturated fat. Numerous studies show that coconut oil can help you lose weight, help stop high blood pressure, improve bone health, prevent diabetes, improve digestion, and even prevent cancer (read more about health benefits of coconut oil). Coconut oil also contains lauric acid, which has antibacterial and antifungal compounds.

You might see coconut oil in your supermarket in a solid state but don’t worry, when you scoop it out of the jar it will soften and liquefy almost instantly. Don’t keep coconut oil in the refrigerator, however, just store it in a cool, dark place.

Coconut oil comes in several different varieties. If you aren’t crazy for the flavor you can buy a type made just for cooking that has almost no smell or flavor so you won’t feel as if all your food came from the tropics! If you love the flavor, buy some raw, extra virgin coconut oil. It has a mild flavor but not so much that it overpowers your food.

Besides cooking, coconut oil is great for your hair, lips, and skin. It’s even handy around the house. Check out our other article on 101 ways you can coconut oil just about anywhere.

Here’s to healthy cooking and a healthy life!