I drink oodles of extra virgin olive oil.
My kids and wife do too. It’s a crucial staple in our diet…yet there’s plenty of confusion around olive oil…
- Can you cook with olive oil?
- How should you store olive oil?
- What should you look for in a good olive oil?
- How do you differentiate between all the different certificates and grades of olive oil?
- And much more!
So in today’s podcast, I interview T. J. Robinson, aka “The Olive Oil Hunter ®” who is one of the world’s most respected authorities on all matters olive oil.
Known for his “platinum palate,” he is one of the few Americans invited to serve as a judge in prestigious Italian olive oil tasting competitions.
These days he is dedicated to importing rare fresh-pressed olive oil via The Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club, the most flavorful and healthiest extra virgin olive oil on the planet, until now virtually impossible to obtain year-round in the U.S. All his oils are independently lab tested and certified for 100% purity.
During our discussion, you’ll discover:
-What makes olive oil so beneficial to our health…5:13
- Science database of olive oil research, including studies Ben mentions
- Olive oil leads to a distinct drop in blood pressure w/ no change in cholesterol; increased triglyceride, decreased HDL count (atherogenic index)
- Bigger predictor of C/V disease is the HDL to triglyceride ratio (more so than total LDL cholesterol)
- Research on mental health and depression
- Stabilization of blood glucose w/ small amounts of olive oil throughout the day
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Mediterranean diet associated w/ improvements in longevity (not the modern bastardized version)
- Sprouting, fermenting, etc.
- The primary fatty acid in olive oil is oleic acid (C18:1)
- It’s a double bond (less oxidation); safe for cooking at high temperatures
- Two fatty acids for the brain: Oleic acid, and fish oil (sardines, mackerel, salmon, herring)
- Other bioactive compounds:
- Bi0phenyls (found in the olive fruit that scavenges free radical species)
- BGF podcast w/ Dr. William Li (author of Eat to Beat Disease)
- Oleocanthal has the same anti-inflammatory pathways as ibuprofen (sans the gastric side effects)
- Squalines (extra virgin olive oil has high amounts) to protect the skin
- Alphatocopherols (Vitamin E)
- Hydroxy terpenic acids (lower inflammation, risk of cancer, decrease blood pressure)
-How T.J. Robinson became acquainted w/ the olive oil mafia…20:18
- Grew up in Asheville, NC
- Scored a gig w/ the Food Network; was sent on assignment to Sicily, Italy, where he became acquainted w/ olive oil
- Harvest of the olive fruit is celebrated widely in Italy and Greece
- New Yorker article: Slippery Business — The Trade in Adulterated Olive Oil
- Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller, author of the aforementioned New Yorker article
- Rampant fraud: It is easy to package cheaper, lesser quality oils as olive oil and sell at olive oil prices
- Olive oil sold in bulk is far more susceptible to adulteration than an artisan oil
- Polyphenols and antioxidants deplete by up to 50% during the first 6 months after distribution
-What you need to know about the dates on the package and how to store your olive oil…33:52
- Three killers of olive oil: light, time, temperature
- Look for the “harvest date” rather than the expiration date
- Look for dark plastic or glass bottles
- Don’t store olive oil above the stove or in the fridge
- Store in a pantry at room temperature, away from light
- Polyphenols and antioxidants prevent the olive oil from oxidizing
- Restaurant olive oils are often adulterated w/ GMO’s, soy, etc.
- Spirulina and glycine protect the gut from oxidized oils
- Olive oil has similar fat makeup as human breast milk
- Olive oil is used as a delivery mechanism for food to babies
-How olive oil is actually produced…44:07
- Olives are picked from the tree, contain 10% oil when they’re green
- Deleafed and washed at the mill
- Crusher (like a food processor) turns it into a paste
- Goes into the millaxer (paste begins to break into parts: solid, water, oil)
- Oil is spun via centrifuge, then goes into the tasting cup
- The solids are dried out and reused as organic fertilizer for the crops
-The process by which T.J. inspects and selects the olives he uses for his customers…51:08
- Flos Olei (website is written in Italian)
- A Guide to the World of Extra Virgin Olive Oil by Flos Olei (2019 edition)
- Samples are collected, big tasting party
- Identify the farms to visit (5-6)
- Trees that are stressed (less water) produce a higher quality oil, higher polyphenols
- Developing relationships: A farm that’s not the right fit at a particular season may be in the future
- Two criteria for extra virgin olive oil:
- Meet a chemistry panel for quality parameters
- Panel of tasters looking for taste defects
- Most oil in the U.S. doesn’t go through this tasting panel
- Oils labeled as extra virgin may not pass the criteria by the time it’s purchased
-How you can assess (and enjoy) olive oil on your own…1:00:51
- “Single variety” refers to one olive fruit used
- Watch out for oils that are labeled as “blends”
- Color of the oil isn’t necessarily an indicator of its quality
- Smell the oil
- Swirl the cup (to release the aromas)
- The taste test:
- Fruitiness (flavorfulness)
- Bitterness (high in polyphenols)
- People are using olive oil as a tool for weight loss
- It’s great as a skin, hair, and face moisturizer
- Can be used as protectant from the sun and skin healer
- Used to clean tile
- Drizzle fresh-pressed olive oil over vanilla ice cream for dessert
-How to cook with extra virgin olive oil…1:23:27
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
– Boundless, Ben’s newest book
– Article: Don’t Sleep On This Game-Changing Ingredient
– Book: Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller
– Flos Olei (website is written in Italian)
– A Guide to the World of Extra Virgin Olive Oil by Flos Olei (2019 edition)
– Book: Eat to Beat Disease by Dr. William Li
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