Listen up, olive oil users! Nutritionists have touted this heart-healthy superfood for ages. And given all of its supposed health benefits—not to mention the amazing things it does for our skin and hair—olive oil is basically the healthiest food you can eat. Right?
Wrong! Don’t worry—olive oil is still good for you (and here’s why!). But you might want to give the label a second glance, because many olive oil companies have been lying to you this whole time.
After testing name-brand products packaged as “extra virgin olive oil,” a 2012 study by the University of California found that nearly 70 percent of the extra virgin olive oil sold in the U.S. is not up to snuff. Although almost all of the brands passed the USDA chemical standards, over half of them failed the sensory requirements. What?!
The term “extra virgin” refers to the process by which the oil was manufactured. Among the four grades of olive oil that exist, virgin oil has the highest grade because it tastes and smells better. However, researchers at the University of California noted that several of the tested brands had flavors and aromas that were rancid or musty. They even classified some of them as lamp oil, which is considered unfit for human consumption by the USDA.
“Results of this study make it very clear that efforts to control the quality of olive oils served in restaurants and other food-service operations will likely fail if they are based only on the most commonly used chemical analyses,” said Dan Flynn, executive director of the UC Davis Olive Center and a co-author of the study.
To avoid the frauds, check the bottle’s label before you buy. Some non-extra virgin olive oils tested in the study were actually olive oil mixed with cheap, refined canola oil. Yuck! Cooling the bottle in your fridge can also distinguish the true from the trick. If the oil strengthens, then you know you have a genuine product. But if it doesn’t, you might want to toss it.
As per the study’s findings, it would be smart to avoid olive oil packaged or sold by Newman’s Own, Whole Foods, Safeway, and Star; the olive oil sold by those brands were not 100 percent pure. However, you can trust that olive oil from Kirkland Organic, Lucini, California Olive Ranch, Lucero, and Cobram Estate is the real deal.
So run and check your pantry, right now! It could make a huge difference for your health—and your waistline.