What You’ve Heard About Olive Oil May Be Wrong

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When you’re shopping for cooking oil, reaching for olive oil is a no-brainer. Loaded with good-for-you monounsaturated fat, it’s a cornerstone of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. But knowing which olive oil to pick — and how to use it once you get home — is where things get a little murkier. Turns out, there’s a lot of misinformation out there about olive oil. Time to clear it up!

You’ve heard: “Pure” olive oil is the best quality.

The term “pure” sounds promising. But it merely means there aren’t other ingredients or oils in the product. Pure olive oil is actually a lower grade than extra-virgin, considered the healthiest because it has the highest concentration of polyphenols, a natural plant compound in olives that acts like an antioxidant in the body. “Pure” olive oil has fewer polyphenols but still has potential health benefits. It also has a more neutral flavor.

You’ve heard: “Light” olive oil has less fat and fewer calories.

“Light” on food packages can mean the product is lower in fat and calories. But in the case of olive oil, the word just refers to its flavor. All olive oils have the same number of calories and fat grams per tablespoon. One perk of light olive oil: It tends to be less expensive than other grades…

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