Buying the Best Olive Oil

A staple of the Mediterranean Diet, olive oil is rich in antioxidants and health benefits. Not all varieties are created equal. Whether you are shopping in the grocery store or at a local olive oil market, there are a few things to consider when purchasing oil.

Expiration Date
Olive oil is perishable; therefore, each bottle should have an expiration date. Older olive oil doesn’t contain as many polyphenols, meaning it doesn’t have the same health benefits as fresh oil. In adherence to the Mediterranean Diet, it is best to consume the oil in the same year in which it was harvested.

Harvest Date
The health benefits of olive oil come from the polyphenols found within the olives. Green olives from early harvests produce oils that have a longer shelf life and are rich in polyphenols. These olive oils are typically more bitter in taste. Olives from a late harvest are not as rich in antioxidants, yet buttery in taste. Harvest dates of late October and November produce the most ideal batches.

Olive Variety
Just as wine can be bottled as a blend, so to can olive oils. When selecting an olive oil blend, note the varieties used as that can affect the antioxidant content. The Coratina, Conicabra, Koroneiki, Moraiolo and Picual varieties contain the highest polyphenol content while the Arbequina, Picudo and Taggiasca olives are not as rich in polyphenols.

Avoid olive oil found in clear glass bottles as the light can be harmful to the product. Don’t fall victim to fancy bottles, the best oils can be found in simple containers.

Olive Oil Grade
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the most widely consumed grade on the market, though there several grade available. The health benefits of olive oil are found primarily in extra virgin olive oil.

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