It's slowly getting darker and cooler. A Mediterranean diet can help you stay healthy and retain some summer warmth. Olive oil is an indispensable source of energy and flavor. But not all oils are suitable for this, as product tests show.
Olive trees line the Mediterranean Sea en masse. Almost half a billion olive trees are on the soil of the European Union. It is harvested in winter, but the olive oil is usually available in supermarkets all year round. It is considered the protagonist of the Mediterranean diet, with all the consequent health benefits that vegetable fats in general and olive oil in particular have to offer. In short, olive oil stands for health, enjoyment and the Mediterranean way of life. And you can't really have enough of that because of the general political climate and the approaching winter.
But the average German tends to be more cautious when it comes to consumption. The per capita consumption per year is just under one liter. Greeks are easily 15 times that in the same period. But no matter how much and for what purpose, the quality of the olive oil that can be bought here in the supermarket should be right and it should taste good.
And after all, in this year's examination of 19 products in the "extra virgin" quality class, Stiftung Warentest can recommend 13 olive oils as "good" - at prices between 5.75 and 36 euros per liter. Fortunately, the testers did not encounter any more bad or adulterated goods in the retail range, despite the shortage of supply due to the "oil crisis". They also found no evidence of adulteration by other vegetable oils and the indications of origin matched the information on the bottles.
Warentest, on the other hand, rated four organic oils as "poor". They tasted rancid and were sensory faulty. According to the EU Olive Oil Regulation, they should not have been sold as extra virgin. This affected the "Bio-Zentrale Extra Virgin Olive Oil" and "Denns Biomarkt Dennree Extra Virgin Olive Oil". And also the oils "Corovita Premium Organic Olive Oil, extra virgin olive oil" and "Müller Bio Primo Spanish Olive Oil, extra virgin", which were also heavily contaminated with mineral oil components. Some of these substances are suspected of being carcinogenic. They should not appear in food. The laboratory data indicate that the pollutants come from technical lubricating oils. However, no olive oil was conspicuous in the pesticide test.
The test winner is the most expensive product of the study from the delicatessen trade. The "Crudo Sei Cinque Zero Olio extra vergine d'oliva" is the only oil that smells and tastes very well balanced - but it also costs 36 euros per liter ("a good 1.9"). The good discounter oils from Lidl "Primadonna Virgin Olive Oil (2.2) extra" and from Aldi "Cantinelle Virgin Olive Oil extra" (2.3) cost 5.75 euros per liter.
Who organic oils like the "Bertolli Bio Originale Extra Virgin Olive Oil" ("good", 2.1, 10.90 euros) or "Edeka Bio Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Greece) ("good", 2.1, 11 euros) buys, promotes organic olive cultivation, where pests, for example, are combated naturally.Chemical-synthetic pesticides are taboo here, bushes and flowers specially planted provide a home for beneficial insects and improve the soil quality.
With regard to health-promoting substances, organic and conventional oils do not differ. All are about 70 percent oleic acid. This monounsaturated fatty acid can lower unfavorable cholesterol in the blood. Polyphenols are also advantageous. The EU allows an advertising statement for these secondary plant substances, which protect olives from predators in nature: "Olive oil polyphenols help to protect blood lipids from oxidative stress." Requirement: 20 grams of olive oil provide at least 5 milligrams of the polyphenol hydroxytyrosol and related compounds. Amazing: With the exception of the oil from Müller, all of the oils in the test contained so much polyphenols that the suppliers were allowed to advertise them. But nobody does it.
(This article was first published on Wednesday, September 21, 2022.)