Q. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
A. When choosing olive oil read the label carefully for the following keys to high quality.
* Always choose extra-virgin olive oils that have the highest levels of polyphenolics and omega-3 fatty acids and the lowest levels of saturated fats and omega-6 fatty acids. “Pure” olive oils or “light” olive oils are chemically refined, with fewer health properties and little flavor.
* Look for acidity levels of 1 percent or less, the threshold for extra-virgin.
* Seek out oils from a single region, approved by an agricultural agency or association.
* Many territory-labeled brands are from small estates, which compete with mass-market conglomerates. Look for DOP (Denominazone Di Origine, Italy), DO (Denominación de Origen, Spain), HEPO (Greek foreign trade board), COOC (California Olive Oil Council) or the Chianti Black Rooster logo.
* Look for a bottling date. Extra-virgin olive oil lasts two years when stored in a cool, dark place.
* Opt for dark or tinted containers, which protect olive oil from the damaging effects of light.