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  • Lindsey, EDRD

Pressing info about olive oil

GET IT? Pressing?!

(My husband refers to that kind of a joke as a "community joke," meaning it's lame but at least no one could ever get offended by it)

Turns out I've been buying the wrong kind of olive oil. Whomp whomp. I suppose the word "wrong" isn't quite right here, but I rather I made a blind assumption- that all olive oils are fairly nutritionally equal.

Depending on who you ask, there are 5-6 grades of olive oil. Typically we only see a few at the grocery store- extra virgin, and, well, plain olive oil.

Extra virgin refers to the very first pressing of the olives- the resulting oil has the most olive-y taste, and the most phenols, which are a group of naturally occurring chemical compounds that have been linked to all sorts of health benefits like:

-Decreased blood pressure

-Lower levels of inflammation

-Higher levels of "good" cholesterol (HDL)

-Improved heart health

Each subsequent pressing of the olives yields oil that's more milder in taste, but less potent in phenols. It's not like nutrition labels quantify how many phenols are in a product, but in general the less a food has been handled/modified/processed, the more phenols it may have.

To be honest, I've just been buying the cheapest form of olive oil for yeeeeeeears.

You see that first ingredient listed- refined olive oil? This leads me to think it was probably one of the last presses done, but with some virgin olive oil added for a bit of flavor. Nutritionally this is by no means a bad choice. It's a rich source of fat but the heart healthy types. I used to tell my patients that the longer the name of the fat, the better it is for you. Case in point: trans fats. They're the WORST. Saturated fats? A little bit longer of a name, and also not a great choice. But find yourself some monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and you've got the winners. Both basic/refined olive oil and extra virgin are going to have identical fats, but the boost in phenols with extra virgin is worth noting.

Next time I buy groceries I will go ahead and spend the extra dollar or two on the authentic extra virgin olive oil to see if I notice a taste difference. If it's in your budget, I'd encourage you to make the nutritional upgrade as well.

PS- to make my salmon, just buy some fresh fillets, brush with olive oil, sprinkle lightly with dried dill, pepper, salt, top with a lemon slice, and bake at 400 degrees for ~20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 140.

Sabrina chowed down all her salmon plus the other kids' scraps. At least I have one kid who doesn't turn up the nose at fish!

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