Healthful consumers want to know, but can often be confused by, how to choose olive oil.
Extra-virgin and virgin olive oil’s healthful properties come from rich levels of monounsaturated fat, which promote “good” cholesterol, as well as abundant polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that may help prevent cardiovascular disease and lower blood pressure.
But when confronted with dozens of olive oils at the grocery store, labeled with terms like “cold-pressed” and “unfiltered” on their labels—and priced from $5 to $50, what’s a grocery shopper to do?
General Shopping Tips for Buying Olive Oil
- Light exposure causes the oil to become rancid and lose its healthful properties—buy extra-virgin olive oil in dark glass bottles and metal cans and store it in a cool, dark place.
- Bottling and/or expiration dates provide guidance on how long the oil will keep.
- If you don’t use extra-virgin olive oil regularly, buy smallbottles—polyphenols and flavor can diminish as the oil is exposed to air.
- The color of the oil doesn’t indicate its quality—rather the variety andripeness of olives used to make it.
Here’s what to look for when you shop for olive oil.
“Extra-virgin” and “virgin” olive oils are processedby crushing olives into a mash, which is pressed to extract the oil (this is called the first press) withoutthe use of heat (called cold pressing).
Extra-virgin oils are of higher quality, as the olives used to make