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Olive Oil Buyer's Guide

Everything you need to know to choose the healthiest, tastiest oil and find delicious recipes using olive oil.

There are lots of good reasons to stock your pantry with olive oil. Long the most commonly used oil in the Mediterranean (as much as 25 to 40 percent of calories consumed in this region come from olive oil), extra-virgin olive oil’s healthful properties come from rich levels of monounsaturated fat, which promote “good” cholesterol, as well as abundant polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that may help prevent cardiovascular disease and lower blood pressure.

 

The Smoke Point Controversy

You might have heard that you can’t cook with extra-virgin olive oil because it breaks down when heated, creating harmful substances and destroying its beneficial properties. But all oils break down when they are heated to their smoke point or reheated repeatedly. However, an oil’s smoke point is really a temperature range (olive oil’s is between 365-420°F), not an absolute number because many factors affect the chemical properties of oil. You can safely and healthfully cook with any oil by not ­heating it until it’s smoking—to get your oil hot enough to cook with, just heat it until it shimmers.

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