5 things you need to know about olive oil

Yes, it's healthy, but what don't you know about excellent extra virgin olive oil?

 Olive oil (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Olive oil
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

We’ve all read and heard about the benefits of olive oil, but how much should you consume per day? What’s the best way to store it? How can you use it properly? And, of course, how can you identify true quality olive oil? Here is everything you must know.

With thanks to the Yad Mordechai company.

No, this isn’t another article recommending that you use olive oil. You've probably already read about its benefits many times. 

Olive oil, beyond its great taste, is also one of the healthiest foods there is, thanks to its rich, varied and unique nutritional composition, which contains omega 9 oleic acid, polyphenols, pigments like carotenoids and chlorophyll, vitamin E and phytosterols. This composition isn’t the same among brands of olive oils and is affected by the olive variety, growing conditions, storage location, oil quality and more.

You’ve probably read about all of this before in an article that praised  olive oil, and rightly so. Now it's time for the information you really need.

Olives are seen during harvest from olive trees belonging to producer Nicolas Alziari (Credit: Reuters)Olives are seen during harvest from olive trees belonging to producer Nicolas Alziari (Credit: Reuters)

1 - How much olive oil should you consume each day?

The first question is quantity. In Mediterranean cuisine, olive oil is a key ingredient used in salads, meats, cheeses and more. Thanks to all this, international food organizations have often named our kitchen "the best diet in the world" and if you also combine it with olive oil, the right and recommended amount to consume per person is two tablespoons a day. 

This way you can replace saturated fat with the same amount of olive oil, without adding it to the amount of fat you consume daily. Two tablespoons a day per person can sound a lot, yet put some on your morning toast, in your salad at lunch and cook fish in it for dinner, and this equals the amount you need. 

Of course, if you’re cooking for more people, increase your oil use accordingly.

A child picks olives (Credit: DAFNA AVRAHAM)A child picks olives (Credit: DAFNA AVRAHAM)
2 - How do you identify quality olive oil?   

So we have quantity, but what about the quality? There are three components that help us know the quality of our oil.

1) Degree of acidity: The recommended level is 0.8% and below. Low acidity may also indicate that the oil was extracted from quality olives, under ideal conditions.

2) Aroma and taste: Tests performed by a team of professional tasters that assess, among other things, the intensity of the oil's fruity aromas, as well as its bitterness and pungency. Through this test it’s possible to know if there are various defects in the oil.

3) Cold pressed: Olive oil is produced by mechanical means only, without adding chemicals. This process allows the oil to maintain its composition. The types of cold pressed oils are extra virgin and extra virgin olive oil,  which are highly recommended to add to food.

In Israel, a survey conducted by the Geocartography Research Institute for the "State Test" in July 2021 found that over half of the opinion makers regarding the taste of olive oil chose Yad Mordechai's extra virgin olive oil as the best and highest quality of Israeli brands tested. It was chosen by a wide margin over competitors.

3 - Is it allowed to use olive oil for frying?

Olive oil is best used at room temperature, to gain maximum nutritional value. You can add olive oil at the end of the cooking process, or sprinkle over cooked food, in order to preserve as much as possible its benefits and nutritional values.

And what about frying with olive oil? The recommendation for those who adhere to a healthy diet is to generally avoid light, deep or prolonged frying as much as possible, regardless of the type of oil used. But if you still decide to fry, extra virgin olive oil, like that of Yad Mordechai, is stable in heating and therefore suitable for frying as well as cooking.

4 - Why fry in olive and not other oil and how to fry properly?

Olive oil is suitable for frying due to a combination of a high smoking point (the temperature at which the process of breaking down fatty acids begins), its many antioxidants and its unique composition, which keeps it stable in the heating process. Olive oil has few saturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids, and especially monounsaturated fatty acid (omega 9). 

In combination with all these ingredients, it’s recommended to fry only in excellent extra virgin olive oil, to avoid reusing the oil, to shorten the frying time and to fry in a vessel with a small surface area, in order to reduce the oil's exposure to oxygen.

5 - How should you store olive oil?

We want to prevent oxidative damage from our olive oil, in order to preserve its qualities as much as possible. Therefore, store your bottle of olive oil in a cool, dark place (but not in the fridge!). It should be stored in a dark glass bottle or alternatively, in a narrow, tall tin and kept away from heat sources like the stove, oven, microwave, window, etc.   

Important Tip: Try to open the bottle as little as possible as each opening puts oxygen inside. Once the bottle is open, the recommendation is to finish it within three months.