How to Select Cold Pressed Olive Oil

There are many varieties of olive oil available in supermarkets and grocery stores, so it can be difficult deciding which to buy. Cold pressed olive oil is one of the most expensive types of olive oil, but has one of the finest fruitiest flavors with a large amount of fatty acids and antioxidants. This high quality olive oil ranges in color from bright green to crystalline champagne to golden green, so you can’t always tell an oil’s value just by looking at it. However, if you follow the advice here, you should be able to select one of the tastiest and healthiest varieties.

Benefits of Cold Pressed Olive Oil

In addition to olive oils, peanut and sunflower oils can also be manufactured with cold pressing. What does cold pressing mean? It’s the process whereby the fresh olive fruit and seeds are pressed and ground with large granite millstones or, in modern industrialized systems, with presses made from stainless steel. The process will generate heat through friction, but for the oil to be labeled as “cold-pressed”, the temperature must not go over 120°F (49°C). By maintaining a lower temperature during production, the oil retains all its aroma, flavor and nutrients.

Here are some of the health benefits you get.

1. Protect Against Heart Disease and Stroke

Cold pressed olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids which cut the risk of strokes and heart disease by lowering the levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol and increasing the amount of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. LDL clogs up your arteries, whereas HDL reduces LDL levels by promoting LDL metabolism in the liver.

2. Lower Blood Pressure

The high polyphenol quantities in olive oil have been found to significantly reduce blood pressure in patients with mild hypertension. Regularly eating olive oil can also reduce the dosage of anti-hypertension drugs required.

3. Reduce the Risk of Some Cancers

The chances of developing prostate, breast and digestive tract cancers, including colon cancer, have been shown to be lower in people who regularly consume olive oil. The cancer-fighting properties of olive oil are thought to be achieved through certain molecules in the oil, such as tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol.

4. Treat Gastric Problems

Cold pressed olive oilis rich in polyphenols, chemicals which may defend the body against Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria associated with stomach ulcers and some gastric tumors. However, whether olive oil is an effective treatment for H. pylori infection remains to be seen.

How to Select Cold Pressed Olive Oil in the Market

1. Read the Label

If you can’t taste the oil before you buy or get advice from the salesperson, you’ll have to use the information on the bottle’s label to gauge its quality. First, ensure the oil you buy is “extra virgin”. Other labels, including “pomace”, “light”, “pure”, or simply “olive oil” without further explanation, indicate the oil has been chemically refined, which removes many health benefits and flavors.

2. Pay Attention to the Packaging

If the oil has been exposed to oxygen, heat, or light, it may go rancid. Therefore look for packaging that shields the oil from the elements, for example, dark green glass. Avoid plastic bottles. When storing cold pressed olive oil in your kitchen, keep the bottle in an area free from heat and light, or wrap it in foil to protect it from sunlight.

3. Don’t Be Misled by Color

Remember that the color of the oil won’t tell you anything. Some manufacturers add leaves to their oil to make them appear darker in color, as dark oils are often thought to be better, but light oils can be just as high quality. Remember, with olive oil, it’s about the taste, not the way it looks.

4. Forget About “Light” Olive Oil

“Light” olive oil doesn’t mean that the oil is low in fat or calories. Usually it has undergone chemical processing to reduce any marked odors, and to change the oil’s color and acidity. Therefore, buying “light” olive oil will almost certainly mean you’re getting an inferior product.

5. Price Plays a Role

With olive oil, you get what you pay for. So high-quality extra virgin olive oil will be priced higher than chemically processed oils. The care in manufacture needed for cold pressed olive oil takes time and money, so producers have to meet their costs through higher prices. If you see cheap “extra virgin olive oil”, it probably isn’t very high quality.

6. Never Ignore the Harvest Date

Olive oil usually lasts for about a year after it has been manufactured. If your bottle is older than this, you should throw it away. Premium olive oil companies usually mark a harvesting or bottling date on the packaging so you can calculate when you need to use it.

7. Your Tongue Is the Judge

The most reliable way of determining the quality of olive oil is by tasting it. The best olive oils, including cold pressed olive oil, have a variety of different flavors – nutty, fruity, herbal, floral, buttery and spicy. These flavors can be mild or strong, but not so marked that it suggests the oil has gone rancid. There should be no waxy feeling when you swallow the oil and it needs to taste “clean” and “fresh” on the palate. The ideal extra virgin olive oil should have a peppery finish that starts on your tongue and ends at the back of the mouth. The Italians even have a word for this sensation – “Amato”.

Common Questions About Olive Oil

Q 1: How do you know if the olive oil is produced in Italy?

One way to see whether your oil originates in Italy is the Denominazione di Origine Protetta (DOP) certification, which means “Protected Destination of Origin” in English. The certification guarantees that the olive oil has undergone a specific comprehensive quality-control process, from the raw olive through to the finished oil product. The olives and olive oil have to be pressed, bottled, and then shipped from Italy.

Q 2: Are there more antioxidants in high quality oils?

The peppery flavor associated with high-quality oils also indicates the amount of antioxidants within the oil – the stronger the flavor, the more antioxidants there are and the greater the health benefits. Therefore, for the tastiest and healthiest olive oils, go for premium brands. Cold pressed olive oil is always an excellent choice.

Q 3: What’s the difference between cooked and uncooked olive oil?

When olive oil is cooked and smoked, a chemical change happens where the olive oil basically starts to consume itself by burning. The cooking process can also take away some of the natural flavors found in olive oil. Therefore, as a healthier choice and for the best flavor, opt for uncooked olive oil. One option you can try is to use only small amounts of olive oil for cooking and then add more oil immediately prior to serving.

Q 4: Does frying require extra olive oil?

In general, you will need more oil for frying, although this does depend on what you’re cooking. Extra virgin olive oil is the best choice for frying, due to its flavor, which will generally go with whatever you’re cooking. To fry with oil, use a 360-365°F temperature (maximum 380°F). You can reuse the oil after you’ve finished frying by filtering it through a coffee filter. This can be done two or three times, but only use the oil for frying, not for dressing.

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