You can only lose your virginity once, and it appears that the shine has finally worn off of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but once something reaches an extreme level of popularity, it’s bound to be involved in scams.
If your cholesterol numbers haven’t been as good as you hoped, it might not be your fault. It turns out that the more than $700 million Americans spend each year on olive oil is likely wasted since many major brands have been found to lie on labels.
The oil became popular with the rise of the Mediterranean Diet. Extra virgin designates the first pressing of freshly picked olives. It’s preferred because it’s free of chemicals used for processing and is rich in antioxidants. What many of us have been eating is cheaper quality lamp oil, seed oil, or a mixture thereof.
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There is some good in all this deception. Oils that are just as healthy (or healthier) but haven’t had much publicity are now being looked at as olive oil alternatives. Chief among these are red palm oil and rice bran oil, and green tea seed oil.
All three oils have high smoke points so make great frying oils. Rice bran oil is rich in gammaoryzanol which is a type of vitamin E that lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) and raises HDL (good cholesterol). There’s next to no taste so you can use it in baking or anywhere you would use olive oil. It also contains the antioxidant squalene. Red palm oil is rich in Vitamin E and Vitamin A, as well as antioxidants such as lycopene, beta/alpha carotene, Vitamin K, coenzyme Q10, and essential fatty acids.
So even if olive oil has lost some of its shine, there are many worthy contenders standing in the wings ready and willing to take its place.