We tell you what you should pay attention to when buying

Pamela Reif’s oily morning ritual: What a spoonful of olive oil does to the body

The selection of olive oils in supermarkets and discount stores is often huge. But not every oil is good and worth the price.

The selection of olive oils in supermarkets and discount stores is often huge. But not every oil is good and worth the price.

iStockphoto

from Nora Rieder

For many people, olive oil is inseparably linked to a healthy, balanced diet.

Fitness influencer Pamela Reif also swears by a daily tablespoon of olive oil on an empty stomach. But the selection is huge and the price differences enormous. We’ll tell you how to really recognize a good olive oil and what the different names on the bottle mean.

Why olive oil has so many positive effects on our health

Germans consumed around 34 million litres of olive oil in 2023 – after rapeseed and sunflower oil, olive oil is one of the most popular cooking oilsThe essence, which is often used generously in Mediterranean cuisine in particular, is quite rightly attributed many positive properties.

Olive oil consists of around 70 percent monounsaturated oleic acid. The corresponding fatty acids have a positive effect on the total cholesterol level and reduce harmful LDL cholesterol in particular. At the same time, they keep the level of HDL cholesterol, which protects the blood vessels, constant. When consumed on an empty stomach, olive oil also stimulates digestion. The popular oil also has a blood-thinning effect, which in turn counteracts high blood pressure. In this way, regular consumption prevents cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks or strokes.

Olive oil is also rich in polyphenols. These secondary plant substances have an antioxidant effect – that is, they neutralize free radicals that are created in the body through UV radiation, smoking, but also during exercise or metabolism. This prevents inflammation, but also deposits in the blood vessels. Daily consumption of olive oil can therefore also reduce the risk of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and type 2 diabetes and protect against the development of cancer such as breast or colon cancer.

It’s no wonder, then, that stars like Selena Gomez, Beyoncé and Kourtney Kardashian, as well as fitness influencer Pamela Reif, swear by a tablespoon of olive oil a day.

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Why it should not be more than one tablespoon of olive oil a day

In addition, olive oil prevents the formation of gallstones because it inhibits the secretion of stomach acid. The vitamin E and other antioxidants it contains also slow down the aging process. And last but not least, regular consumption of olive oil boosts the brain by improving memory and the ability to concentrate.

But as with so many things, the dose makes the poison. Oil is a type of fat. It provides about twice as many calories per gram as carbohydrates or protein. To prevent obesity, we should therefore only consume it in moderation.

The German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends a maximum of ten to 15 grams of oil and 15 to 30 grams of fat such as margarine or butter per day. Ten grams corresponds to about one tablespoon of oil.

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Why olive oil is twice as expensive as last year

Anyone who wants to quickly buy a bottle of olive oil in a supermarket or discount store will quickly feel overwhelmed by the huge selection of oils. In addition to the large range, the price differences are also immense: some olive oils cost up to 50 euros per liter.

Even for cheaper oils, prices have literally exploded compared to last year: According to the Federal Statistical Office, olive oil now costs an average of 50.8 percent more than it will in 2023. This is due, among other things, to climate change and the resulting more frequent and longer periods of drought. The otherwise undemanding olive trees receive too little water and produce fewer fruits, which are also of inferior quality than in previous years.

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But what are the differences between the different oils? And how do I find a really good oil that is also affordable?

Extra virgin, native and extra virgin: This is what lies behind the different olive oil labels

The selection of olive oils in supermarkets and discount stores is often huge. But not every oil is good and worth the price.

The selection of olive oils in supermarkets and discount stores is often huge. But not every oil is good and worth the price.

iStockphoto

How healthy a particular olive oil is depends primarily on the production process. Basically, the more gently the oil is extracted, the better. Cold-pressed oils, for example, are only pressed mechanically at temperatures below 27 degrees Celsius. This means that aromas and sensitive ingredients are largely preserved. Such cold-pressed oils are referred to as virgin. Refined oils, on the other hand, are additionally treated with heat. This makes the oil tasteless and also causes it to lose its nutritionally valuable bioactive substances.

According to an EU regulation, olive oil is divided into different quality classes:

  • The highest quality level is that of oils labelled “extra virgin olive oil” (grade 1) or “extra virgin”. These oils are extracted exclusively using mechanical processes and without heat treatment. Their free fatty acid content is less than 0.8 percent. The lower this is, the higher the quality of the oil. Olive oils of this quality class must smell and taste perfect and have a minimum level of fruitiness. This means that they are of the highest quality in terms of both health and taste.

  • Under the name “Extra virgin olive oil” (grade 2) Cold-pressed oil is sold with a maximum content of two percent free fatty acids. It is produced in the same way as extra virgin olive oil, but the taste is not quite as good due to the higher content of free fatty acids. Such higher acid values ​​always occur when the olives are harvested very ripe and are not processed immediately after harvesting and then at very high temperatures.

  • If the bottle only has the name “Olive oil”it is a blend of hot-pressed (refined) and cold-pressed (virgin) olive oil. Since there are no regulations for the mixing ratio, it varies greatly. However, the proportion of refined oil usually predominates. With grade 5, this oil has the lowest quality level and is less healthy than the cold-pressed oils.

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In the video: These oils should be stored in the refrigerator