When most people come across a bottle of olive oil, the image that crosses their mind is of freshly pressed oil derived from the local olives of Italy and Greece, whose heavenly taste and powerful health benefits get bottled up to be enjoyed by millions of Americans like you…now I wish that was real.
The truth though is that the extra virgin olive sitting in our cabinets contain just a trickle of that vibrant and heavenly fresh pressed olive oil… and that’s just one of the problems with it.
In this article, we are going to look at all the dirty little secrets that are hidden within that bottle of olive oil:-
Over 69% of the imported olive oil is tainted
A test done by UC Davis, found that 69% of all the olive oil imported to America failed to meet the standards of International Olive Oil Council. 10% of California samples fell in this category as well. That’s not all. If the bottle has an Italian flag, it doesn’t mean it’s from Italy; it simply means it was packaged there. Most likely it was adulterated with cheaper oils. Some manufacturers even mix vegetable oils with other flavor enhancers and colorants to produce fake olive oil.
So be very weary when you buy your next bottle of olive oil from the super market. The real deal might be expensive and might be imported from close to home- such as California.
Olive oil, heart healthy? Probably not!
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat, which is off course much better than saturated fat and trans fat. But it doesn’t mean that it is good for you. It contains 120 calories and almost 14 grams of fat per tablespoon. It actually encourages the storage of fat.
A research study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, compared a group of Crete residents with heart disease with those without any heart conditions. What they found was that the group with a higher intake of Vitamin B12 and monounsaturated fatty acids in their diet were more likely to have heart diseases.
In another research study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, they looked at the effect of the different aspects of Mediterranean diet on the endothelium. The results showed that when the participant ate a meal rich in olive oil, their endothelial functioning was impaired, which made them more vulnerable to heart diseases.
Olive oil has a lot of calories in just a few tablespoons. Even though healthier, a high amount of liquid fat and calories will make you gain weight, which does put you at risk for diabetes, stroke, cancer, and other heart diseases.
Does olive oil save the heart with polyphenols? Unfortunately no!
Polyphenols are phenolic compounds that have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, blood pressure and cholesterol while improving the arterial walls. Now the problem is that most commercially produced olive oils have very little polyphenols. In fact, to truly reap in the benefits you would have to consume a substantial amount of olive oil which will end up doing more harm than good to your waist line.
These polyphenols are also found in many fruits and vegetables, at a fraction of calories. Not just that, but unlike olive oil, using fruits and vegetables to get your polyphenol fix will also give you the added benefits of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants hidden within them.
Olive oil does not really lower HDL
When people switch to olive oil, chances are they going to be using it in place of not-heart-friendly food products like butter and cheese. It is this switch that lowers your LDL. Olive oil, by itself, doesn’t really decrease the LDL levels.
If you want to lower LDL, olive oil is not a necessity. What is important is to eliminate foods with very high saturated fat and trans fat content.
But people on the Meditterean diet are so healthy…It must be the olive oil!
False. There used to be a time when the people of Crete ate a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains, along with olive oil. Plus, they used to be very physically active. This is the reason they had low rate of heart disease. But now their diet is rich in meat and cheese, and their physical activity has gone way down as well. This is perfectly reflected on their current health state. More than 60% of the adults and 50% of the kids are overweight. They still have olive oil, but it’s not really helping.
That’s because it was never the magic bullet to ward of diseases. The key was a balanced diet with an active lifestyle.
Olive oil is good for you, but do remember to purchase a very good quality. Unlike wine, olive oil does not age well. Always check the harvest date. They only stay good for about two years, and that too in a dark area at room temperature. If it doesn’t have a harvest date, steer clear of that bottle. Also, remember that sometimes local is better. So the one made in US might be way better than those imported from Italy.
In the comments below, please tell me: what is your favorite brand of olive oil?