The other side of olive oil


UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - People cook with it, bake with it and fry food in it.

Olive oil is a kitchen staple that has a local nutritionist and a few olive oil advocates speaking out about how it should be used and the amount a person should consume.

"Olive oil is a staple in so many homes, especially locally with our rich Italian heritage, "Jack Kunkel, a nutritionist said. "Residents are blinded by how the oil is marketed. And they forget that olive oil has cons to its pros."

Kunkel said olive oil is 100 percent fat and very calorie dense.

"If I do a three-day diary for a client or patient, and I see they are putting olive oil in everything and I have them add up those calories, at the end of day its likely someone is eating 600 calories just in pure olive oil."

Kunkel also believes people are using olive oil incorrectly.

"You're not supposed to cook with it," he said. "You're supposed to put it on salads. Different oils have different cook points, so people should really be cooking with some type of fat or lard."

The defining factor that comes into play is olive oil's smoke point, which ranges from bottle to bottle, can vary between 360 degrees Fahrenheit to 460 degrees.

Tomas Almeida, marketing representative with the local olive oil company Sovena said olive oil very rarely will reach its smoking point.

"The smoke point might not be exactly the measurement, because the smoke point doesn't account for bringing the oil temperature once," Almeida said. "It depends on how much time that temperature is being used." He mentioned when anything is heated it loses nutrients, but olive oil is a better alternative to use.

"It's a very versatile ingredient in the sense you can use it for baking, seasoning, drizzling, for finishing, for sauteing and marinating," Almeida said, "I mean, I would say all disciplines and cooking styles, there is room for olive oil usage there."

There are various types and brands of oils, so which one is best for you?

"Typically extra virgin is the best olive oil -- pure fruit juice, let's put it that way," Almeida said. "Then you have typically pure olive oil, then extra light, which are blends of extra virgin with refined oils. Refined oils are the ones that didn't make the cut at the mill origin to become really good oils."

Extra virgin olive oil is the most pure, but also the most expensive.

Eryn Balch, the vice president  of the North American Olive Oil Association disagrees that olive oils that are not labeled "extra virgin" are mixed and tainted with other oils.

" Our association goes out on the market like a consumer and collects 100-200 samples every year (and has) for 25 years," said Balch. "Then we send them ourselves to certified labs to check for adulteration for something like that."

Balch also gave tips on the proper way to store olive oil:

1.) Once you open a bottle, you want to use it within two to three months.

2.) It is important to store the oil in a cool, dark place.

3.) Do not store olive oil near the stove or any surface that gets hot.

4.) Purchase the correct amount of oil for you.

Balch recommends purchasing a bottle size that corresponds with how much you use of it. If you don't use much, purchase a smaller bottle versus the jug. One a bottle is opened air gets inside, potentially tainting the oil.

To avoid hitting that dreaded smoking point, cook at a lower temperature for a longer amount of time.

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