Wednesday’s Ask Dr. Walt — Oils Well That Ends Well

Dear Dr. Walt,

I was shocked when I watched an episode of 60 Minutes on TV that reported many fake or adulterated extra virgin olive oils on the market in the U.S. How can I find good product?

—Olive Oil Lover in Ohio

Dear Olive Oil Fan,

Research shows that olive oil may improve heart health, along with having other potential benefits, and this seems to be related primarily to the polyphenol content — especially in extra virgin olive oil.

Unfortunately, there do appear to be fake or adulterated products on the market here in the U.S., and it’s not possible to judge the quality or purity of extra virgin olive oil just by looking at or tasting it.

However, there are steps you can take to increase your odds of purchasing high quality oil.

First, look for brands with a certification seal on the label, which would indicate that the oil meets certain sensory and chemical standards.

The ones I like the best are the USDA Quality Monitoring Program, the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA), the California Olive Oil Council (COOC), and the Extra Virgin Alliance (EVA).

The last three list products they recommend on their websites.

Furthermore, of these recommended oils, choose one that includes the harvest date on the label and is packaged in dark glass.

Do not confuse the harvest date with the “best by” date.

UC Davis researchers advise us to buy oil within 15 months of its harvest date.

Of course, you can store your olive oil in a dark cabinet and protect it from light degradation also.

© Copyright Walter L. Larimore, M.D. 2017. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.