Olive Oil is the king of healthy fats. It is a polyunsaturated fat that is heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and cholesterol-lowering. Many researchers credit olive oils protective effects for the cardiovascular health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet.
In April, 2013 The New England Journal of Medicine found that consuming four or more tablespoons of olive oil per day, along with adherence to a Mediterranean diet, was conducive to an inverse association with cardiovascular disease (heart attack, stroke or death from cardiovascular causes). Furthermore, adding nuts to the mix of olive oil and Mediterranean diet strengthened the findings.
Just six months after this study was released came the November, 2013 recommendation from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology that more Americans need to be on statins (cholesterol lowering medication) in order to reduce their risk of coronary heart disease. Wouldn't you rather "be on" more olive oil instead?
Most Americans assume their olive oil comes from Italy, however 98% of olive oil imported into this country comes from Spain, often with oils from a number of different Mediterranean countries blended together. In recent years, testing has shown that adulteration frequently takes place. This means that inferior oils are replacing or blended with the extra virgin olive oil that you think is in the bottle. Needless to say, if you aren’t consuming real extra virgin olive oil, you aren’t reaping the benefits.
(Click Read More for California Olive Oil and What to look for on the label.)
To better illustrate what I'm talking about, I photographed a bottle of "Italian" Olive Oil. It clearly states "Imported from Italy" on the front of the label. And while that may be so - the imported part - the oil itself is a blend from four different oil-producing countries: Italy, Spain, Greece and Tunisia. This brand is no cheaper than any other premium Italian brand, but I would never, ever buy it. Why? Because I do not trust that the oil is 100% extra virgin olive oil. I want my olive oil to come from a single source.
I've also seen organic, "California"-labeled brands where the oil actually comes from Italy! You have to read labels carefully in order to know what's in the bottle! Again, the only way to reap the benefits of Olive Oil is to actually consume Extra Virgin Olive Oil!
*And take note: "Light" Olive Oils have the same amount of calories and fat as any other olive oil; they are simply a blend of virgin and inferior oils. They should be avoided, despite their lower price point.
Do your best to buy real, authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil in order to reap the health benefits!