1. “Extra virgin” means three things: The oil has been pressed out of fresh olives without heat or chemicals (like fresh-squeezed juice); it’s been judged by a panel of sensory experts to have zero taste or smell defects; and lab tests have proven it to have very low acidity.
2. Extra-virgin olive oil is famously full of antioxidants, but according to a study in the Journal of Food Science, they become 40 percent less effective after six months of storage. That doesn’t mean that big jug you bought awhile back is spoiled—just that you may not be not getting the full health benefits from it.
3. Pass that bottle, please! A bunch of studies have found that consuming at least two tablespoons a day of EVOO lowers blood pressure, and diets high in monounsaturated fatty acids—which olive oil is packed with—help reduce belly fat.
4. You can massage a little onto your hands before cutting beets to prevent them from staining your skin. Rachael does this!
5. Resist the urge to add olive oil to the pot as your pasta is cooking: It doesn’t actually prevent clumping. Boil your noodles in plenty of water and stir throughout the first minute of cooking and you’ll be all set.
6. Called the “Chanel No. 5 of olive oils,” Lambda Ultra Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil, sourced from some of the oldest olive trees in Greece, is the world’s most expensive. You can get a perfume-sized bottle on Harrods.com for $43, or about $13 an ounce. (Note: We do not recommend dabbing it on your pulse points.)
7. Celebs love EVOO! Emma Stone has talked about moisturizing with it, and Chloë Grace Moretz has used it to wash her face, saying it has made her skin “so much clearer.” If you’re oily or acne-prone, you’ll be happy to know you can buy a cleansing oil or lotion with EVOO in it. That way, the pure stuff can stay in the kitchen in its cruet.
8. Salad dressing made with EVOO may help your body absorb more of the antioxidants in leafy greens and other veggies, according to a Purdue University study.
9. Nearly 70 percent of imported EVOO was found to be rancid, mixed with cheaper oils, or of a lower grade of virgin in a report by UC Davis. To be sure you get the good stuff, look for a seal from the North American Olive Oil Association, the California Olive Oil Council or the Australian Olive Oil Association, as well as a container made from dark glass or tin—the only ones recommended by those groups.
10. Been cooking with fresh rosemary, sage, thyme or oregano, and have some left over? Freeze it in an ice cube tray with EVOO, then pop out a cube and drop it into homemade soup, sauce or mashed potatoes.