Like salt and pepper, olive oil is a pantry staple. A few tablespoons can transform a simple dinner into a luxurious dish, and its health benefits make olive oil the original ‘‘superfood.’’ The antioxidants in olive oil protect against inflammation, and studies have shown its healthy fats can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
However, not all olive oil is created equal. Walk down a grocery store aisle and you’ll likely see a large variety of olive oil, all the bottles claiming to be the real deal. How do you know what to buy? A good bottle of olive oil doesn’t have to be expensive, and you can find the right bottle at any price point by following three key tips.
First, look for “extra virgin” on the label. Often abbreviated as EVOO, or extra virgin olive oil, this type undergoes minimal processing, so its flavors and antioxidants remain intact. It can be pricier than other varieties of olive oil, but it can be used for both cooking and drizzling.
Second, look for a harvest date on the label. Olive oil is best when used within 15 months of its harvest date. Avoid olive oil that has a harvest date older than one year.
Third, purchase oil that is stored in a dark-tinted, glass bottle. This type of bottle protects the oil against heat and light, which can break down its chemical compounds and distort the flavor.
When you buy the right bottle of olive oil, aim to use it within two to three months of opening. Keep it stored in a cabinet away from heat and light.
Don’t shy away from using olive oil in the kitchen. The right kind can elevate both your meals — and your health.