Choosing the Right Olive Oil for Health Benefits

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I’ve learned a lot about choosing the right olive oil over the last couple of years. Our family follows the Nemechek protocol, which calls for the use of quality, certified extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). However, EVOO has incredible anti-inflammatory goodness – which is why many people choose to incorporate it into their everyday diets.

olive oil
Photo by Mareefe on

Why Use Olive Oil

The health benefits of olive oil are well documented, especially extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Extra virgin olive oil is unrefined, so it contains important antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.  In fact, the well-known Mediterranean Diet is rich in the use of olive oil, and according to this study, reduces the risk of major chronic disease and can improve cognition.

After reading Dr. Nemechek’s book, Nemechek Protocol For Autism and Developmental Disorders: A How-To Guide to Restoring Neurological Function, I learned that elevated pro-inflammatory cytokines within the central nervous system can have a big impact on the development of neurological disorders. [Cytokines are small secreted proteins released by cells have a specific effect on the interactions and communications between cells.] How this mom sees it? A diet high in processed foods and Omega 6’s contributes to inflammation at the cellular level in our bodies, and a quality olive oil can help reduce that inflammation.

Read the label

You see, the Standard American Diet (SAD) contains a lot of pro-inflammatory Omega 6 oils. Look at the ingredients on any processed food and you’ll often see vegetable oils listed that include any of the following:

  • Soybean oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Corn oil

Because these oils are inexpensive, you’ll often see them listed in the top 5 ingredients. This can be why diets are unbalanced with too much Omega 6 and not enough anti-inflammatory Omega 3. Processed foods help fuel inflammation.

Can we just cut out Omega 6’s completely?

No – both Omega 6 and Omega 3 are important – they are called essential fatty acids for a reason. They are essential because they play a role in blood clotting and inflammation – but work best when in balance. Research suggests that the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 can be as high as 16:1. Using EVOO is a good way to add more Omega 3’s into your diet.

But can I cook with EVOO?

Yes! There is a myth about EVOO having a low smoke point. When the right, high quality, extra virgin olive oil is used (not a blended oil), it is highly stable when heated up to about 410 degrees F. As a reference, Canola oil has a smoke point about 400 degrees F.

The Cost of EVOO

It’s true that a quality extra virgin olive oil can cost more than vegetable oils. I buy mine at the local grocery store and pay $11.99 for a 33 oz. bottle, or about .36 per oz. By comparison, a Starbuck’s Grande Mocha Frappachino costs about .33 cents per oz. (another subject I might know too much about).

I use a full cup of EVOO in my blueberry muffin recipe – which is what my daughter eats almost everyday, in addition to what we cook with. One batch yields about 18 muffins which freeze really well.

Choosing the Right Olive Oil

If you’re wanting to incorporate olive oil into your diet, here’s how to choose the right one:

  1. Choose EVOO – extra virgin olive oil – because it contains important antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.  
  2. Choose (Dark) Glass over plastic. Light is the enemy of EVOO and will reduce the healing properties. Choose dark brown or green glass bottles, or opaque tins. Keep EVOO in a cool, dark environment – not in the refrigerator, and not next to the stove.
  3. Look for the seal. COOC – California Olive Oil Council. That’s the only way to know for sure that the olive oil is pure – because it’s been certified. Other olive oils may not be pure, and have other oils blended which will reduce (or even negate) the healing properties.
  4. Look at the harvest date. EVOO is best used within 6 months of that date. There may also be a “best used by” date, may be 18 months from the harvest date, however, the fresher the better! Olive oils lose their health benefits over time. I like to purchase a couple of bottles at a time – one that I keep in my basement pantry, and one that I use.

Quality olive oils can be found at most grocery stores, and even at departments stores like Target and Wal Mart. I prefer to purchase my EVOO in person. Be careful when shopping online – make sure to use a reputable supplier as the stock photo you see and the actual label may not match up.

What is the Nemechek Protocol
11 week update
6 month update
1 year update
1.5 year update
A visit to Dr. Nemechek (2 yr update)

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