Consumer Reports: The truth about olive oil

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Olive oil is a popular choice over other oils because of its supposed health benefits. But are those benefits real? Consumer Reports pored through the research to find the truth about its reputation and tested 26 olive oils to find the best-tasting. 

Drizzle it on a salad. Dip some bread into it. Or simply cook with it. Olive oil is a pantry staple with a reputation for being both versatile and healthy. No wonder it’s garnered the nickname liquid gold. But just how good is it for you?

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.

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 percent compared with those who consumed less.

But before you head out and start filling your cart, make sure you’re getting the right one. Not all olive oils are made the same.

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. Regular olive oil is refined and has almost none of these compounds.

To find the best extra virgin olive oils, CR recruited a trained sensory panel and experts in olive oil tasting. Yes, those people really exist! 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.

Two olive oils that 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. 

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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