Extra Virgin Olive Oil is my favorite oil to use in salads and about everything else. Olive oil is very high in compounds called phenols, which are potent antioxidants. Olive oil is mainly made up of monounsaturated fat, the most important is which is called oleic acid, shown in research to be extremely heart healthy. Compared with carbohydrates, monounsaturated fat lowers LDL cholesterol, “the bad cholesterol”, and raises the protective HDL “good cholesterol”.

But now for the bad news, all olive oil is not created equal
. Unfortunately, commercial manufacturers, trying to gauge the health hype on olive oil, have rushed to market all kinds of imitation and inferior products that say “olive oil” on them, but have questionable benefits. Here’s when being an educated consumer really makes a difference.

You may have been wondering what this “extra virgin” designation is all about. Well, here’s the scoop. Olive oil is almost unique among all oils in that you can consume it in its crude form without any processing. Not refining the oil has the benefit of conserving the vitamins, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and other nutrients. On the best family-owned farms, olive oil is produced in ways similar to those of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Organic olives are picked by hand so as not to damage the skin or pulp; the oil is then separated by hand without the use of heat, hot water or solvent, thereby leaving it unfiltered. This first pressing produces the best, known as “extra virgin” olive oil. Once you begin machine harvesting and processing with heat, you start damaging the delicate compounds in olive oil responsible for all those great health benefits.

Real “extra virgin olive oil”, made with care and love and the absence of heat and harsh chemicals, will last for years.

Finally, I discovered the best olive oil I have ever tasted.  The Olive Press is produced and located in Sonoma, CA, and also carries a variety of other fantastic products.  Their website is www.theolivepress.com, and I can personally recommend all of their products.