NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – In your health – News 8 is on call for you. February is heart month so here’s what you need to know about a heart healthy oil.

Mild? Robust? Extra Virgin? Olive oil is consumed by millions and comes in all kinds of varieties. Studies show it can help lower the risk of heart disease.

It’s so popular, that a proposed Yale Olive Institute is in the works.

“Olive oil is a product of a fruit – olives are fruit,” explains Dr. Tassos Kyriakides with Yale School of Public Health, answering the frequently asked questions about olive oil.

What are the other health benefits of olive oil?

He says, “There’s been a lot of work to show there’s benefit in cancer, there’s benefit in metabolic syndromes, diabetes for example. Neurological disorders, a lot of work in Alzheimer’s now. And most of it is because of the anti-inflammatory effects.”

What is EVOO – extra virgin olive oil?

“EVOO is the extra virgin olive oil and that’s the highest grade that one can achieve in terms of the fruitiness and the freshness of the oil. No defects in the free fatty acids, concentration less than point 8,” explains Dr. Kyriakides.

Can you fry with olive oil?

“You can definitely fry with olive oil,” he says, “That’s a myth that people have been propagating. Recent research has shown that olive oil compared to other oils has the lower amount of polar compounds released at a high temperature consistently over and over again.”

What is the shelf life of olive oil?

He says, “Most of the bottles now have a best buy date. And usually it’s 18 months. I think a place like a pantry, away from the heat away from the light, that would give you a good shelf life of 6, 9 months, a year. The suggestion is, use it as frequently as quickly as you can because it has the health benefits and also it will taste fresher.”

What does cold pressed on the label indicate?

“What that means is, you make sure that the process of the machine you use for the olives to be pressed, the temperature is cool. And the reason you want to do that is you don’t want to degrade the polyphenols and the other, the aromas from the olive oil.”

How do you pair olive oil with certain foods?

Dr. Kyriakides answers, “A good analogy for olive oil is think how you pair wine and what kind of food goes with it. So milder oil, you use with milder food, i.e. seafood, some fish, and salads and omelettes, some grilled veggies. You don’t want a strong oil, a robust oil to overcome the flavor you want to preserve.”

He says a minimum of 1.5 to two tablespoons of olive oil a day can have health benefits. But points that in Greece, Greeks are the number one consumers of olive oil, the average consumed is about 4 tablespoons a day.

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