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Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Tuscany and What’s in Our Markets?

Originally posted July 7, 2014.

The issue about the adulteration of extra virgin olive oil in our food supply has been bugging me for some time.

We’ve all heard about the all-encompassing health benefits of extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO). How, borrowing from aromatherapist and herbalist lingo, the phytonutrients in this extraordinary plant oil supports our terrain – promotes healing on multiple levels: our body, mind and spirit.

We’ve all heard about the anti-inflammatory benefits of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) obtained from first press to be superior to the later pressings. This is due to stronger mo-lecular concentrations of phytonutrients (particularly polyphenols) with anti-inflammatory properties in EVOO than in other pressings.

And we’ve all heard by now that the Mediterranean Diet is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease. This is due to the chemistry of the EVOO plant oil. EVOO has molecular components called hydroxytyrosol (HT) which protect the cells in our blood vessels from being damaged by reactive oxygen molecules.

Using EVOO plant oil, loaded with HT over time, helps protect our blood vessel cells by triggering changes at a genetic level, in other words, supports our terrain. The genetic changes enacted by the molecule HT helps the cells in the blood vessels enhance their already innate antioxidant defense system.

And the monounsaturated, omega-9 fatty acid, oleic acid, found in the extracted plant oil EVOO, decreases total blood cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and a positive LDL:HDL ratio.

Plus recent research shows that EVOO’s monounsaturated fat content is also linked to decreased blood pressure, via the molecular action of oleic acid. The molecules of oleic acid are absorbed into the body, interacts with our cell membranes and signals pattern changes at this cell membrane level (specifically, altering G-protein associated cascades), thereby lowering blood pressure.

So, EVOO supports our blood vessels by providing antioxidants like vitamin E and beta-carotene but also reduces oxidation and inflammation at a cellular level by supplying us with unique molecules like HT that actually interact with our blood vessel cells at a genetic level. And molecules in the monounsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid interact with our cells and lower cholesterol and blood pressure! Pretty good stuff?

Really great! But did you know that most of the olive oil we buy in our stores that are labelled “Extra Virgin Olive Oil” and “Imported from Italy” are mislabeled and misleading?

Recently I stayed at the Podere Partrignone in Tuscany, where Simon and Verity run their authentic Italian 14th century villa! They have wonderful rooms and apartments to rent! And they have their own large grove of ancient olive trees! We had a wonderful stay there!

Simon educated us about the benefits of EVOO but also educated us about yet another unfortunate scams propagated around our food and nutrition!

I learned was that the EVOO that I was buying in the stores is probably nor EVOO and is probably nor from Italy and is probably adulterated with different oils from other coun-tries. You see, Italy imports oils from other countries, processed these oils and then can legally repackage and export these oils labelled as EVOO from Italy. So many of the olive oils found on our American supermarket shelves are these highly processed oils.

Geez, was I pissed off! I’ve been buying these oils thinking I was helping my family’s health and now I find this is not the plant oil I thought I was buying and using! (My detailed education in applied chemistry about the molecular structure of phytonutrients in the aromatherapy certification course at Liz Fulcher’s Aromatic Wisdom Institute is helping me understand how plant matter interacts with our bodies. For example, I understand the action of olive oil in our bodies even more, at a molecular level.)

Needless to say, we purchased some of Simon and Verity’s oil. It’s has a distinctive aro-ma bouquet and pronounced taste, due to the properties of the true EVOO plant oil’s molecular content. I feel good when I use this whole food, but it’s costly. And I’m really disappointed, once again, in how our food supply (translate: health) is corrupted and regulated (NOT).

For more information about Simon and Verity’s authentic Tuscany retreat and more information about the state of the world’s olive oil industry, take a look here.


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