April 20, 2024
Olive oil extra virgin olives health

Among the many health advantages of olive oil are its ability to reduce the risk of dementia, heart disease, cognitive decline, and premature mortality.

The harvesting, processing, storage, and usage of the staple of the Mediterranean diet—at farms or mills, grocery shops, and your own home—determines how good the food is in reality.

According to Dr. Tassos Kyriakides, an associate professor of biostatistics at the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Connecticut, “olive oil has a variety of components that contribute to its health benefits.” “The primary one is oleic acid, which has been demonstrated to have several positive health effects.”

The abundant polyphenols in olive oil, a kind of antioxidant that helps guard against inflammation and cell damage in the body, are also significant, according to Dr. Mercedes Fernández, head of the International Olive Council’s standardisation and research unit, an intergovernmental organisation with headquarters in Spain.

This is the information you need in order to choose the healthiest olive oil for your diet

Harvest and preparing

According to Kyriakides, companies who take pride in their olive oil harvesting process have always produced products of a high calibre. The best olive oil is produced from softly picked, very green, unripened olives since it contains a larger concentration of the beneficial ingredients, he continued.

The next crucial stage is how soon the olives are turned into oil once they are harvested.

Some companies have their own mills and processing where within two hours, they could take the fruit from the trees, put it in the mill and get the product,” Kyriakides said. This minimizes the risk of the fruit oxidizing or fermenting from sitting out for too long post-harvest.

The interval between the dates of harvest and processing shouldn’t be longer than a few days, he continued.

According to experts, one of the main determinants of a product’s healthfulness is the way the oil is treated. The healthiest type of olive oil is extra virgin, which is cold-pressed just once without the use of harsh chemicals or heat. The extra virgin oil’s nutrients are preserved thanks to the unique procedure.

Methods for preservation and freshness

You might be asking how consumers are expected to know when olives are picked by brands or how quickly they are processed.

Owing to the increasing demand for olive oil’s health advantages, several businesses have included this information right on product labels. As an alternative, you may read the information on your smartphone by scanning the QR code included on some labels.

In either case, experts advise looking for the “best by” date as well as the dates for harvest, processing, and bottling to ensure you receive the freshest oil possible.

Your best option will be bottles that arrive on the shelves no later than three months after harvest; the oil will be fresher if the best-by date is closer to the time of purchase, according to Kyriakides.

Brands are advised by the International Olive Council to restrict the best-by date to a maximum of two years following bottling.

Olive oil extra virgin olives health
If a brand’s bottle says the harvest season was “23/24,” for example, “that means their harvest lasted the latter part of 2023 into early 2024,” Kyriakides said. “Others will be very strict — they will say October, September 2023.”

When fresh olive oil is available, fans in the US don’t need to import it as much. It’s been made feasible by the rise of US-based producers, particularly in California, where the climate is ideal for native olive tree kinds to flourish and residents can have premium oil in much less time. On a smaller basis, olive oil is also produced in Georgia, Oregon, Texas, and Arizona.

Similar to the components found in tea or chocolate, the compounds in olive oil also deteriorate with time, particularly if they are exposed to light or air, are stored in a hot environment, or are processed on a small scale, according to Dr. Selina Wang, an associate professor of cooperative extension at the University of California, Davis.

For this reason, it’s essential to keep olive oil refrigerated and in a dark-colored glass bottle for the duration of its shelf life. It’s best to consume the oil raw, for example as a salad dressing, rather than cooking with it because of the significance of a cold environment. But experts say olive oil is far healthier than highly processed oils found in grocery stores, regardless of how it is used.

An appetiser table idea with falafel, pita flatbread, bulgur and tomato salads, grilled vegetables, filled grape leaves, olives, and almonds that is Middle Eastern, Arabic, or Mediterranean in nature.

According to Kyriakides, it’s a warning sign if you notice extra virgin olive oil at the grocery store kept on a top shelf next to bright, large lights and the bottle is heated.

“I’m not going to buy that oil, because I know it’s been sitting there, it’s been exposed to that heat already,” he added.

How to store your olive oil at home

Aside from dates of harvest and processing, flavour is another method to determine how fresh your oil is.

According to Joseph R. Profaci, the executive director of the North American Olive Oil body, a trade body for the industry, “the more taste an olive oil has, the more health benefits” since the molecules that give olive oils their flavour also add to its taste. “If consumers’ health is their main concern, they should seek out robust products rather than mild ones.”

Because of this, Profaci also recommended that individuals “become accustomed to opening and tasting their olive oil bottle as soon as they get it home.” They will become more discriminating consumers of olive oil as a result. Take it back to the retailer and request a refund or replacement if they are dissatisfied with the taste, especially if it tastes like rotten crayons or stale almonds.

Wang said that if the oil tastes good and is sufficiently fresh, you should not save it for special occasions.

“It is best to use your olive oil as soon as possible because as it ages, the health benefits and flavour it provides will no longer be as strong.”

The phenolics in the oil may be preserved for an additional year or two if it is regularly refrigerated; however, Kyriakides advised setting it out on the counter slightly before adding it to your salad to allow it to reheat to room temperature.