When thinking of the peak of wellness elixirs, you probably envision green smoothies, mushroom powders, and kale piled high. But cardiologist and The New York Times best-selling author Dr. Steven Gundry says that one of the “greatest health tonics ever discovered” is already stocked in your pantry. He’s talking about the oft-overlooked ancient ingredient known as olive oil. The staple has an incredibly long list of health benefits.
What makes olive oil so powerful is the polyphenols it contains. Basically a potent antioxidant naturally found in certain foods, olive oil has a particularly high amount of them. These antioxidants can reduce the risk of a few serious health issues. For example, in a recent finding published in The New England Journal of Medicine, participants who consumed a liter of olive oil a week had a 30 percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease. Other studies have found that olive oil may even improve memory and reduce the risk of breast cancer in women. It can even prevent premature signs of aging on the skin’s surface.
Point being—pick up that bottle. And if you’re just adding the oil to your roasted veggies, you’re missing out. “The only purpose of food is to get olive oil into your mouth,” Dr. Gundry says. Cook with it, of course, but he also recommends pouring it on anything and everything you eat—including smoothies, yogurt, poached eggs, and even shots, as Dr. G does every single morning. “Try to aim for using a liter a week—that’s about 10 tablespoons a day.”
Many believe cooking with olive oil damages the oil, but it’s actually a huge misnomer. “Olive oil has a fairly low smoke point when heated. People think it is damaged during cooking, but in fact, the opposite is true,” says Dr. Gundry. “It’s the least oxidizable oil for cooking, even better than coconut or avocado oil.”
Unlike wine, olive oil does not get better with age. An unopened bottle is only good for about two years after the harvest date, and once it’s opened, use it within two months. Store it in a dark cupboard, as heat, air, light, and time will make the oil go rancid even quicker.
In honor of devouring Mother Earth’s magical elixirs known as olive oil, here are nine options worth consuming—based on what you’re craving.
If You Want the Expert-Approved Option
Dr. G himself makes an olive oil with 30 times more polyphenols than conventional brands. It’s grown in the deserts of Morocco, making it produce more of the heart-healthy antioxidant from being in survival mode in the harsh environment. While you can certainly cook with the oil, do as Dr. Gundry does and drink a shot every morning to get the full cardiovascular benefits.
If You Need One That Can Do It All
Handmade from heirloom trees from a single-estate California farm, Brightland is one of a kind. The Awake option is herbaceous and grassy-tasting, which blends beautifully into anything from salad dressings to roasted veggies to baked goods (olive oil cake for the win).
If You Want Avocado Toast All Day Everyday
Wonder Valley keeps things old-school. It still rakes the fruit from the trees and even denotes the specific olive blends in each of its harvest years. The 2018 blend, for example, is from five different olive groves in Lake County, California—all of which are picked when young to yield a longer shelf life and higher concentrate of those precious polyphenols. Celebrate the beauty of California by drizzling some on avocados and sourdough bread.
If You Want to Escape to Athens
Certified organic and handpicked from Greek Koroneiki olives, this oil is pressed within three hours of harvest, making it taste incredibly fresh and possessing a longer shelf life. Celebrate the oil’s Greek heritage with a fresh Horiatiki salad with a generous pour of Gaea.
If You’re Craving Warm, Fresh Bread
If you prefer your olive oil Italian and more peppery, grab a bottle of the iconic Frankies. It’s DOP certified, a classification which is only given to Italian olive oils that have undergone strict quality measures to ensure the highest efficacy. Enjoy the bright flavors with a traditional Tuscan summer salad or just cut right to the case and grab a fresh loaf of bread, dipping it into the oil.
If You Love Eggs in the Morning
You can’t beat the price of this brand, which is known for its mild, subtly flavored blends. This everyday oil is available at almost all grocery stores and is perfect when you need a lot of it, like poaching eggs in olive oil—a staple meal in one of the healthiest places in the world, Crete. “Extremely old, healthy people will put two poached eggs into a bowl with an inch of olive oil and eat it with a spoon,” says Dr. Gundry.
If You’re Dying for Some Fresh Pasta
Fresh off the presses—literally. This 2018 harvest is boldly green and spicy tasting and isn’t for the faint of heart. It comes from the Marchesi de Frescobaldi family, which has had an olive and wine dynasty since Renaissance times. The emerald-colored oil is perfect on freshly cut pasta with Parmigiano-Reggiano.
If You Prefer Tapas
If you want to try a whole new region of oils, give Spain and Nunez de Prado a try. The extra-virgin oil is from the Andalusian region of Spain from the brand’s namesake family, which has been hand-picking the harvest since the late 1700s. They’re still a small, family-run operation, and the oil is known for its more herbaceous flavor.
If You’re Having a Big Dinner Party
Dr. Gundry is actually a huge fan of Costco. He also loves this olive oil because it comes from traceable Italian origins and is strictly grown, pressed, and bottled in the country—it even has a “made in Italy” product certification. If you’re throwing a dinner party, stock up on this bottle, which comes at an incredible price tag for high-quality origins.
Keep healthy snacking: