Olive Oil – a lot of us buy it, many of us eat it, but most of us have no idea how amazing this product actually is for our health!

Growing up, I can distinctly remember my Yiayia quite literally soaking her food in Extra Virgin Olive Oil. While I always used to think it was because she couldn’t be bother measuring and simply loved its beautiful flavor, perhaps it was so much more than that.   Its role in Mediterranean eating is primarily related to decreasing onset of heart disease. Loaded with the monounsaturated fat oleic acid, it’s a champion when coming to maintaining HDL cholesterol levels in the blood. What sets olive oil apart from other monounsaturated fats is the high level of carotenoids and polyphenols that contribute to other health benefits. It also has an anti-inflammatory property due to the naturally occurring substance olecanthal. The above benefits come from the best quality olive oils. Below is a list of the different types of olive oils found on the supermarket shelves.

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Chris Hassall shopping for olive oil at Delta Continental | Image by Melissa Ordonez

EVOO

Top notch choice of olive oil. Extra Virgin Olive Oil has the highest nutritional value, zero to no taste defects and less than 1% free acidity level. Its flavor will vary depending on olive variety and growing conditions.

VOO

Due to its free acidity level being a little higher at 2%, the quality of oil is slightly less than EVOO, however still a good choice.

Refined Olive Oil

Not our first choice for salad dressing, marinades or cooking as this oil typically is tasteless. Chemical and physical filters remove excess acidity, while also taking away its beautiful odour and colour.

Olive Oil

Don’t be fooled by the light and extra light claims on the tins and bottles of your standard olive oil, these do not have less fat, it is literally referring to the colour of the oil. Made by mixing refined olive oil with virgin olive oil, this is an affordable option best used for cooking.

Some of the best quality olive oil can be purchased from our very own local Hellens Food Brokers, Duncan Street West End. Just walking into the shop will give you a true feel of what it would be like to gather groceries in a traditional European sense.   Until next time – get cooking!

Words by Lisa Peterson, Dietitian Tree of Life Nutrition