Look for ‘extra virgin’ on the olive oil bottle for health benefits

Consumer Reports’ taste-testers make recommendations

We drizzle olive oil on salad, dip it in bread, or simply cook with it. This pantry staple has a reputation for being versatile and healthy, but not all are made the same.

“Research does link olive oil, especially when part of a Mediterranean diet, to numerous positive health outcomes, including longevity, improved cholesterol profiles, reduced inflammation, and the reduced risk of several chronic diseases,” said Consumer Reports’ dietitian Amy Keating.

A study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology involving about 92,000 people found that consuming more than a teaspoon and a half of olive oil a day reduced the risk of dying early from any cause by 19% compared with those who consumed less.

But before you head out and start filling your cart, make sure you’re getting the right one.

“To get the full health benefits of olive oil, you’ll want to use extra virgin olive oil, which contains many bioactive components including phenols, which research suggests are responsible for much of the oil’s positive benefits,” Keating said. “Regular olive oil is refined and has almost none of these compounds.”

To find the best extra virgin olive oils, Consumer Reports recruited a trained sensory panel and experts in olive oil tasting. Each oil was served in a special blue glass so that the samples weren’t identified and the color didn’t influence the evaluation.

“Extra virgin olive oil should taste fruity and fresh with some bitterness and pungency without any off-flavors,” Keating said.

Two olive oils they said stand out for flavor and value are Aldi’s Specially Selected Sicilian Extra Virgin Olive Oil and California Olive Ranch 100% California Medium Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The California Olive Ranch is sold at H-E-B, Walmart, Target and World Market.

When you get that olive oil home, proper storage is key. Keep it closed tightly in a dark place away from heat sources like the dishwasher or stove.

Olive oil isn’t the only oil out there with health benefits. Other plant oils like soybean and canola can be healthy options as well.


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About the Author

Marilyn Moritz is an award-winning journalist dedicated to digging up information that can make people’s lives a little bit better. As KSAT’S 12 On Your Side Consumer reporter, she focuses on exposing scams and dangerous products and helping people save money.

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