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A few years ago I made the decision to get down to the basics with a few items in my cooking routine. One of my big changes was to use olive oil in the majority of my cooking. Since it has a low to medium smoke point, I use it primarily to saute foods on the stove top.
I transitioned to olive oil after hearing about all of its health benefits. Most likely, you have heard something about the benefits of olive oil. But, just in case you aren’t familiar, here’s a quick update.
Health Benefits Of Olive Oil
Olive Oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. These fats help to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. I had planned to include a quote from the Mayo Clinic site about the health benefits of olive oil, but all articles referring to olive oil have been removed from their site in the past two days…interesting. The website for Medical News Today includes a number of studies citing various health benefits associated with the oil.
Maria-Isabel Covas, at the Parc de Recerca Biomèdica de Barcelona, Spain, carried out an extensive review of studies that had focused on the biological and clinical effects of olive oil.
The study was published in the journal Pharmacological Research.
The study found that people who regularly consume olive oil are much less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, and hyperlipidemia (high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels).
Covas also found that regular olive oil intake helps reduceinflammation, endothelial dysfunction (problems with the inner linings of blood vessels), thrombosis and carbohydrate metabolism.
So, I was quite shocked today to read an article on a website called Eat Local Grown, which is dedicated to promoting the benefits of locally grown food. Evidently, olive oil manufacturers are pawning off fake olive oil as the real thing. This article, written by Deane Alban, cites the research of the book Extra Virginity: The Sublime And Scandalous World Of Olive Oil, which uncovers a world of corruption in the olive oil market.
According to Alban, all olive oils are not created equal. In fact, some of the brands you are buying may not even contain any olive oil at all. Evidently, the University of California did a study of the olive oils found in the US market and found that 69% of them were fake!
I did a little research on my own just to make sure that this was legitimate and yes, the University of California, UC Davis did indeed perform this study. However, the lists were slightly different than those presented by the EatLocalGrown article.
Fake Olive Oil Brands
In 2010 UC Davis released a report that indicated that a large number of imported extra virgin olive oils did not meet USDA or international standards. Here is a list of some of the most popular grocery store brands that failed the standard.
If your olive oil is not on the list, there is an easy way to check it out. Since olive oil is full of mono and polyunsaturated fats, it will solidify if placed in the refrigerator. This is similar to coconut oil, which has an even higher fat content and is therefore solid at temperatures below 75 degrees.
I performed the refrigerator test on my olive oil and unfortunately my olive oil received an “F” in the refrigerator test.
Real Olive Oil Brands
The study did find olive oils that met the standards for true extra virgin olive oil. These are:
California Olive Ranch
McEvoy Ranch Organic
(You may want to note that Pompeian was listed as a real oil in the Eat Local article; however, it was actually listed as a fake oil in the UC Davis report .)
Well, all I can say is I am quite frustrated to learn that my attempts to protect our arteries may have been fruitless up to this point. At least now I will be better informed I go to the grocery store.