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What Olive Oil Should Taste Like, The Scary Truth About Olive Oil, Can You Cook With Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Much More!

Ben Greenfield Fitness

Release Date: 02/08/2020

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More Episodes
I drink oodles of extra virgin olive oil.
 
Every day.
 
My kids and wife do too. It's a crucial staple in our diet...yet there's plenty of confusion around olive oil...
 
Can you cook with olive oil?
How should you store olive oil?
What should you look for in a good olive oil?
How do you differentiate between all the different certificates and grades of olive oil?
 
And much more!
 
So in today's podcast, I interview T. J. Robinson, aka "The Olive Oil Hunter ®" who is one of the world's most respected authorities on all matters olive oil.
 
Known for his “platinum palate,” he is one of the few Americans invited to serve as a judge in prestigious Italian olive oil tasting competitions.
 
These days he is dedicated to importing rare fresh-pressed olive oil via The Fresh Pressed Olive Oil Club, the most flavorful and healthiest extra virgin olive oil on the planet, until now virtually impossible to obtain year-round in the U.S. All his oils are independently lab tested and certified for 100% purity.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-What makes olive oil so efficacious to our health...5:13

  • Science database of olive oil research, including studies Ben mentions
  • Olive oil leads to a distinct drop in blood pressure w/ no change in cholesterol; increased triglyceride, decreased HDL count (atherogenic index)
  • Bigger predictor of C/V disease is the HDL to triglyceride ratio (more so than total LDL cholesterol)
  • Research on mental health and depression
  • Stabilization of blood glucose w/ small amounts of olive oil throughout the day
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Mediterranean diet associated w/ improvements in longevity (not the modern bastardized version)
    • Fasting
    • Sprouting, fermenting, etc.
  • The primary fatty acid in olive oil is oleic acid (C18:1)
    • It's a double bond (less oxidation); safe for cooking at high temperatures
    • Two fatty acids for the brain: Oleic acid, and fish oil (sardines, mackerel, salmon, herring)
  • Other bioactive compounds:
    • Bi0phenyls (found in the olive fruit that scavenges free radical species)
    • BGF podcast w/ Dr. William Li (author of Eat to Beat Disease)
    • Oleocanthol has the same anti-inflammatory pathways as ibuprofen (sans the gastric side effects)
    • Phytosterols
    • Squalines (extra virgin olive oil has high amounts) to protect the skin
    • Alphatocopherols (Vitamin E)
    • Hydroxy turpenic acids (lowers inflammation, risk of cancer, decreases blood pressure)

-How T.J. Robinson became acquainted w/ the olive oil mafia...20:18

  • Grew up in Asheville, NC
  • Scored a gig w/ the Food Network; was sent on assignment to Sicily, Italy, where he became acquainted w/ olive oil
  • Harvest of the olive fruit is celebrated widely in Italy and Greece
  • New Yorker article: Slippery Business -- The Trade in Adulterated Olive Oil
  • Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller, author of the aforementioned New Yorker article
  • Rampant fraud: It is easy to package cheaper, lesser quality oils as olive oil and sell at olive oil prices
  • Olive oil sold in bulk is far more susceptible to adulteration than an artisan oil
  • Polyphenols and antioxidants deplete by up to 50% during the first 6 months after distribution

-What you need to know about the dates on the package, and how to store your olive oil...33:52

  • Three killers of olive oil: light, time, temperature
  • Look for the "harvest date" rather than the expiration date
  • Look for dark plastic or glass bottles
  • Don't store olive oil above the stove or in the fridge
  • Store in a pantry at room temperature, away from light
  • Polyphenols and antioxidants prevent the olive oil from oxidizing
  • Restaurant olive oils are often adulterated w/ GMO's, soy, etc.
  • Spirulina and glycine protect the gut from oxidized oils
  • Olive oil has similar fat makeup as human breast milk
    • Olive oil is used as a delivery mechanism for food to babies

-How olive oil is actually produced...44:07

  • Olives are picked from the tree, contain 10% oil when they're green
  • Deleafed and washed at the mill
  • Crusher (like a food processor) turns it into a paste
  • Goes into the millaxer (paste begins to break into parts: solid, water, oil)
  • Oil is spun via centrifuge, then goes into the tasting cup
  • The solids are dried out and reused as organic fertilizer for the crops

-The process by which T.J. inspects and selects the olives he uses for his customers...51:08

  • Flos Olei (website is written in Italian)
  • A Guide to the World of Extra Virgin Olive Oil by Flos Olei (2019 edition)
  • Samples are collected, big tasting party
  • Identify the farms to visit (5-6)
  • Trees that are stressed (less water) produce a higher quality oil, higher polyphenols
  • Developing relationships: A farm that's not the right fit at a particular season may be in the future
  • Two criteria for extra virgin olive oil:
    • Meet a chemistry panel for quality parameters
    • Panel of tasters looking for taste defects
  • Most oil in the U.S. doesn't go through this tasting panel
  • Oils labeled as extra virgin may not pass the criteria by the time it's purchased

-How you can assess (and enjoy) olive oil on your own...1:00:51

  • "Single variety" refers to one olive fruit used
  • Watch out for oils that are labeled as "blends"
  • Color of the oil isn't necessarily an indicator of its quality
  • Smell the oil
  • Swirl the cup (to release the aromas)
  • The taste test:
    • Fruitiness (flavorfulness)
    • Bitterness (high in polyphenols)
    • Spiciness
  • People are using olive oil as a tool for weight loss
  • It's great as a skin, hair and face moisturizer
  • Can be used as protectant from the sun and skin healer
  • Used to clean tile
  • Drizzle fresh pressed olive oil over vanilla ice cream for dessert

-How to cook w/ extra virgin olive oil...1:23:27

-And much more...

Resources from this episode: 

 
- Boundless, Ben's newest book
 
 
 
 

- New Yorker article: Slippery Business -- The Trade in Adulterated Olive Oil

- Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller, author of the aforementioned New Yorker article

- Flos Olei (website is written in Italian)

- A Guide to the World of Extra Virgin Olive Oil by Flos Olei (2019 edition)

- BGF podcast w/ Dr. William Li (author of Eat to Beat Disease)

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Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for TJ or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!