You’d have to live in a cave to not have heard about the health benefits of olive oil. It’s a monounsaturated fat that is a major component of the Mediterranean diet and is believed to be a factor why people in that area of the world are some of the healthiest and long-lived.
Olive oil has been used medicinally for over 5,000 years. Its health benefits are legendary. It has been found to boost the immune system, increase bone density, prevent cancer, strokes, and heart disease, lower blood pressure, and reduce your risk of diabetes.
And if that isn’t enough, it seems that olive oil can improve memory and increase overall cognitive function. A large study on 6,000 women over the age of 65 found that women who consumed the highest amount of monounsaturated fats, which can be found in olive oil, had better patterns of cognitive scores over time.
SEE ALSO: How to spot fake olive oil
But now it looks like the olive oil you trusted to provide you with health benefits might be a fake! Is nothing sacred anymore?
Olive Oil Is Big Business
Working backwards, it’s pretty easy to guess the “why”. There is money to be made in olive oil forgery.
The US alone spends 1.5 billion dollars a year on olive oil. It might not seem worth the effort to make fake oil, but in one Italian bust alone, authorities broke up a criminal gang sitting on $8 million worth of fake oil.
Throughout Europe there are large scale facilities that pump this stuff out.
According to the book Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, illicit manufacturers slap an Italian flag and the name of an imaginary producer on the label and dump this stuff on the US market, where consumers are easy pickings.
But consumers in the US aren’t the only victims. Studies done in Australia and New Zealand found that half of their Mediterranean imports were fake, too. Anywhere olive oil is in demand is a possible target.
How do you fake olive oil? Olive oil can be diluted with poor quality oils or sometimes there is no real olive oil at all. Cheap and unhealthy soy or canola oils are colored with industrial chlorophyll and flavored with artificial flavorings. Yum.
Extra Virgin Oil Frauds
The term “virgin” when applied to olive oil doesn’t mean quality. There are four levels of virgin olive oil. The lowest grade of virgin olive oil is not fit for human consumption and designated for “other” uses, like making soap.