Olive oil 101

Selecting healthy choices promotes good heart health and can aid in dietary prevention of chronic disease.

For overall better health and chronic disease prevention, consumers are looking for healthier oil(s) that can be used for most of their cooking, baking and salad options. There are numerous oil selections on store shelves. In examining olive oils, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Fooducate offer helpful olive oil tips:

  •  “Extra-virgin olive oil” is the most flavorful and healthiest olive oil, because it is naturally produced without heat or chemicals. It retains healthy antioxidants from the olives.
    • “First Press,” “Cold Pressed” or “Cold extracted” extra-virgin olive oils may use these marketing terms. Extra-virgin olive oil is produced by crushing the olives without adding any heat or using any chemicals. All extra-virgin olive oil is produced this way even if the label doesn’t call it out.
  •  “Olive oil” is a blend of refined olive oil with some virgin or extra-virgin olive oil added back for flavor. Olive oil has a mild olive flavor, making it a great oil to substitute for other common cooking oils like vegetable oil and canola oil without changing the taste of the recipe.
    • “Classic” or “Pure” olive oil – This type is the same as olive oil and always refers to a blend of refined oil with some extra-virgin olive oil or virgin olive oil added for flavor.
    • Light Flavor” or “Light Tasting” olive oil – These labels indicate there is very little virgin olive oil in the blend and therefore a very subtle flavor.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) Olive Oil
Flavor Flavor varies; can be seasoned and can be blended for consistency Typically mild to low flavor and consistency
Health Benefits ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
Smoke Point 350 - 410 degrees Fahrenheit 390 - 468 degrees Fahrenheit
Price Point $$$-$$$$ $$
Cold Use Drizzling, dipping, dressings and marinades Dressing and marinades
Hot Uses & Cooking Sautéing, grilling, roasting, baking, pan-frying Sautéing grilling, roasting, baking, pan-frying
  • Other tips:
    • It’s important to note that the fat and calories are actually the same in all grades of olive oil.
    • Remember any type of fat (oil) is high in calories.
    • Olive oil does not get better with age.
    • When choosing a bottle at the store, check for a ”use by” date.
    • Make sure the bottle doesn’t show signs of mishandling or age, such as oil drips or leaks.
    • Avoid buying oils with an orange tint color if in a clear bottle, or dust on the bottle suggesting it has been on the shelf a long time.
    • When oil is properly stored in a cool, dark place, it should keep in the original sealed packaging for about 18 months to two years.

Check with your health care provider to learn about your personalized dietary guidelines concerning fats. For more tips on chronic illness and health prevention, visit Michigan State University Extension at http://msue.anr.msu.edu/topic/info/chronic_disease.

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