Healthiest Olive Oil Guide

Written by:

Suzanne Weaver-Goss

Looking for a different guide? Browse them all HERE.

How to Pick the Healthiest Olive Oil

Image of the healthiest olive oil being poured. | Gimme The Good Stuff

For decades we’ve known about the benefits of the “Mediterranean diet” (fresh fruits and veggies, fish, whole grains, red wine, and olive oil). Modern science tells us that of those foods, olive oil appears to have perhaps the biggest impact on our health–but not just any olive oil!

Yes, we should always buy organically grown, extra virgin oils (EVOO), but that is far from the whole story when it comes to selecting the healthiest olive oil.

Read on for tips on buying the healthiest olive oil, our very favorite brands, and how to eat it to ensure you’re enjoying all of the health benefits this super food offers!

High Phenols Mean the Healthiest Olive Oil

What we should really be seeking in our olive oils is those that have high levels of health-producing high-phenolic compounds. Two of the very best are oleocanthal, a natural anti-inflammatory agent, and oleacein, a potent antioxidant.

Some of the benefits of polyphenols include:

As you can tell, high-phenolic olive oils are not only food, they are also medicine. But polyphenols degrade over time, so the higher the parts per million (ppm) of polyphenols is at bottling, the more polyphenols will remain in the bottle over time.

Optimally, you want olive oil that is less than one year old, but when properly stored (cool, dark place–but not the fridge), you could stretch that a bit if the ppm is very high to start with. The oil should also be bottled in dark glass to discourage UV degradation.

How to Identify High-Phenol Olive Oil

High-ppm olive oil has a pleasant peppery after-taste. If your olive oil has absolutely zero peppery burn to it, it’s likely that it has very low polyphenol levels, and is thus not the healthiest olive oil (although still not harmful).

Image of the healthiest olive oil brands. | Gimme The Good Stuff

There is an age-old custom of tasting the olive oil and seeing if it’s a one-cough, two-cough, or three-cough olive oil. Sensors found mainly in the human throat—but not the mouth—latch on to a chemical found in high-ppm olive oils. Coughs can indicate high phenolic content. This “cough test” is probably the easiest way to tell if the oil you’re eating has a high phenol level.

It is important to note that phenolic content will vary from year to year from the same manufacturer. However, if you buy a good quality brand of olive oil, it should have high polyphenols. Some olive oil manufacturers publish their ppm scores and/or harvest dates either on the bottle or online. These are typically the healthiest olive oils.

Is the Healthiest Olive Oil Filtered or Unfiltered?

There is one last consideration to keep in mind when selecting the healthiest olive oil–and this is filtered versus unfiltered oil. Unfiltered oil retains minute particles of the fruit in the oil. These particles can contain certain beneficial nutrients. But those particles of fruit also rot, causing the oil to lose polyphenols much more rapidly than filtered oil might.

Bottom line: if you can get very, very fresh unfiltered olive oil, you may gain some health benefits. But if you, like most of us, don’t have access to super fresh oils, it’s probably better to stick with filtered oils.

Best Stuff

Organic Olea True

Polyphenol level: 800-1,300 ppm

Good Stuff

In addition to Olea Blue, there are a few other small brands that are doing it right. We’ve listed the polyphenol levels next to each one so that you can compare them more easily. Each of these is organic and extra virgin.


Polyphenol Level: 500 to 800 ppm

Sister Julie’s

Polyphenol Level: 600-800 ppm

Image of Sister Julie’s Olive Oil. | Gimme The Good Stuff

Living Tree

Polyphenol Level: 400-800 ppm

Image of Living Tree Olive Oil. | Gimme The Good Stuff

McEvoy Ranch

Polyphenol Level: 500 to 800 ppm


Polyphenol Level: 500-600 ppm

Okay Stuff

It’s difficult to evaluate this category because it involves several “supermarket” brands of olive oil. These companies produce very high volumes of oil, and it’s nearly impossible to tell from batch to batch exactly what is in any bottle.

So while the following olive oils or often healthful , the ppm counts and content are not necessarily consistent over time. None of these is likely to be one of the healthiest olive oils on the market, so we really can only call them Okay Stuff.

Also, be cautious of brands that do not print each bottle with a harvest date and/or test results for polyphenols.

Because heat causes immediate degradation of polyphenols, we recommend using the following brands for cooking, and eating the Good Stuff brands raw.

Sneaky Stuff

Many olive oils that claim to be EVOO are not in fact extra virgin, and some even mix their olive oil with less expensive oils like sunflower oil (these will still be labeled as extra virgin olive oil!).  Tests can determine if oils are mixed or not. They can also tell if an oil is extra virgin or not. One such test, conducted by U.C. Davis, found that the following “100% EVOO” brands failed to meet the standards.

  • Bertolli
  • Carapelli
  • Colavita
  • Star
  • Filippo Berio
  • Mazzola
  • Mezzetta
  • Newman’s Own
  • Safeway
  • Whole Foods
Image of sneaky Olive Oil. | Gimme The Good Stuff

The above categorizations are the results of our own in-house research. It is by no means an exhaustive list. There are thousands of olive oil manufacturers in the world.

One good way to sample a wide variety of quality olive oils is to join the Fresh Pressed Olive Oil Club.

Does the Healthiest Olive Oil Taste Good?

Because flavor is subjective, we are not reviewing for it in this guide. We have tried almost all the oils in the Good Stuff categories, and although each has a unique flavor, they are all pretty yummy! I admit that when I taste an oil with no peppery aftertaste these days, I just don’t want to eat it! I’m ruined from working on this guide for the last several months and becoming exposed to so many delicious oils.

We look forward to hearing your feedback as you try the healthiest olive oils and enjoy the benefits!

To your health,

Suzanne, Certified Holistic Health Coach

Note: This article contains affiliate links or sponsored content, which means that if you make a purchase, we may earn a commission. We only recommend products that meet our strict standards for non-toxicity and that we use (or want to use!) ourselves. Thank you so much for supporting the brands that make Good Stuff! 

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Leave a Reply

  1. Louise Gulartie Avatar
    Louise Gulartie

    I have just placed an order and can’t wait for my first shipment! After doing basic research on high polyphenol content, I realize I don’t know what an appropriate daily dosage is for health purposes,,,,a teaspoon, a tablespoon, or is it dependent on the weight of the person? Any guidance would be appreciated. And thank you!

  2. Bobbie Sena Avatar

    I buy HEB central market extra virgin olive oil for $9 a bottle. Is it safe and healthy? It does have a peppery tamng and it is delicious.

  3. Judy Bertelsen Avatar
    Judy Bertelsen

    Is CORTO olive oil organically grown?

    The plastic bladder prevents oxidation. Is it otherwise safe?

  4. McEvoy Ranch Avatar

    Thanks Suzanne for the great article on polyphenols and the myriad of health benefits of olive oil. Great to have McEvoy Ranch included in your “Good Stuff” extra virgin olive oil round-up too. Our current 2018 harvest/release of Olio Nuovo is out now thru February 28, 2019 and comes in at 452 ppm… an even higher count than the 2017 release mentioned and pictured in your piece above. If looking for the healthiest olive oil, search for Olio Nuovo (“new oil”) releases from producers as they will always have the highest polyphenol counts as compared to a later-season harvest or blended olive oils.

  5. Millie Hue Avatar

    Thanks for helping me understand that filtered oil is the healthiest choice since there will be no particles that can rot. I will choose this when I buy one since we need to live healthy this year. Especially me, I have been getting sick most of the time starting this year. My UTI is coming back, and my acid reflux is getting worse.

  6. Mary Egan Avatar
    Mary Egan

    Hello.I have been trying to eat healthier and after reading a book Genius Foods where the author talks about 3 cough evoo I tried to find one. Your article really helped. The one I had previously found in the supermarket was the California Olive Ranch first cold press Extra virgin. Rich and Robust which seems to have that cough inducing taste you spoke of and the harvest date on bottle. Is this still not one of the better ones to use? Hoping to try one you rec omend

    1. Suzanne Weaver-Goss Avatar
      Suzanne Weaver-Goss

      Good for you! Yes, the harvest date counts and once you start tasting the Good Stuff when it comes to olive oil you can never go back. Of course, at some point you might want to try our Olea True ( Experience Olea True (formerly Olea Blue) and join the “going beyond extra virgin” movement. Olea True is the purest and most potent high-phenol olive oil on the market, with antioxidant levels scientifically measured and included on their labels.) I don’t use it for cooking and include it in my diet as a health supplement and it tastes great. I can just steam some vegetables for dinner and then pour some Olea True on top or dip a good sourdough bread in a small dish of Olea True! California Olive Ranch is in our guide as Ok Stuff They don’t list the numbers for the polyphenols. You could contact them and ask.

  7. Joshua Reeves Avatar
    Joshua Reeves

    What do you think about the Badger brand olive oil? Its called Soler Romero EVOO
    Certified Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil and its made from over 100 year old olive trees. Its from southern Spain.

  8. Sanjana Avatar

    Whats the best way to find out the amount (Oz?) of oil in the bottles? I couldn’t find it on the description on the bottle from Apollo on Amazon and I can’t read it on the bottle.

  9. Lauren Avatar

    I see a lot of comments about not being comfortable with cooking with oils other than coconut, ghee and sometimes olive oil at a low smoke point. What about cooking with Avocado Oil? That has been our default since learning that it’s not ideal to cook with olive oil when using high heat. Just want to verify that is safe. Thanks!

    1. Jody Avatar

      I’m curious about this as well. We use OO, but have also used avocado oil, which I like. Any issues with it?

  10. Stacey Avatar

    I see that you recommend non-organic US oils. Do you take into account the glyphosate/pesticide content, or are you excluding chemical content all together from your healthiest data?

    1. Suzanne Weaver-Goss Avatar
      Suzanne Weaver-Goss

      I always prefer organic over non-organic oils. Sometimes small businesses don’t have their products organically certified but they don’t use pesticides. As with everything it can be complicated. Also there is some evidence that there is so much glyphosate in the soil that even organic foods have exposure.

  11. kelly Avatar

    HI! I love the great information on your site! Wondering if you have any info on

    I love shopping THRIVE and would love to support their brand if the polyphenols add up.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Suzanne Weaver-Goss Avatar
      Suzanne Weaver-Goss

      Organic extra virgin is a great choice but I don’t know the polyphenol levels. The older the oil is the less polyphenols.

  12. Bonnie Avatar

    What oil is recommended for cooking with then? Anything that is liquid (meaning, not coconut oil) and easy to put in a pan in a pinch?

    1. Suzanne Weaver-Goss Avatar
      Suzanne Weaver-Goss

      I haven’t found a vegetable oil that I am comfortable with. Coconut oil or ghee or the only ones that I feel comfortable with. Or olive oil at low heat.

  13. Norah Avatar

    Thank you for this great information

    We use the Cosco brand Kirkland USDA Organic
    Extra Virgin. Would you recommend this one?

    1. kelly Avatar

      I’m curious about this one as well!!

    2. Suzanne Weaver-Goss Avatar
      Suzanne Weaver-Goss

      Yes, Cosco brand is extra virgin but I don’t know the polyphenol levels.

  14. Joanne Lacina Avatar

    Great article, Suzanne! And thank you for bringing attention to the health benefits of polyphenols and their relation to an oil’s longevity and pungent flavor. With an increased awareness of the benefits of polyphenols, we found it important to state this information when available from our producers on our product pages on Olive Oil Lovers. While it’s not a required parameter in testing for authenticity, it is something more producers are testing as a quality parameter as more consumers look for high phenolic oils. And also thank you for addressing the difference between filtered vs. unfiltered olive oils – something that often confuses consumers. An unfiltered oil such as an early harvest Nuovo is excellent, as long as it’s consumed fresh and within a few weeks after opening; otherwise, as you said, stick to the unfiltered stuff for a longer shelf life.

    1. Suzanne Weaver-Goss Avatar
      Suzanne Weaver-Goss

      You are welcome!

  15. Nikki Avatar

    Thoughts on Braggs Organic EVOO first cold pressed? This is all we use. Thanks!

    1. chloe Avatar

      Yes I have the same questions! Thanks !

    2. Suzanne Weaver-Goss Avatar
      Suzanne Weaver-Goss

      Briggs is probably ok because it is a pretty good company, however I don’t know what the phenol levels are.

  16. Sumiyah Avatar

    Recommending to cook olive oil is unhealthy and does not fall in line with this website. OO does not have a high smoke point and when you cook it, you oxidize the fatty acids which contribute to a high # of LDL cholesterol and other inflammation in the body.
    -also, thank you…I’ve been waiting for this guide for a while

    1. Suzanne Weaver-Goss Avatar
      Suzanne Weaver-Goss

      Yes, I do know this. I cook on low heat. I have not found another oil that I am comfortable cooking with but I do use ghee.

  17. Jeri Rand Avatar
    Jeri Rand

    In the “Bottom line:” section, did you mean to end the sentence with: better to stick with “filtered” instead of unfiltered, since filtered would last longer due to less particles subject to rot? Sorry, I’m confused and thinking maybe a typo? KIND THANKS for your articles and product recommendations. VERY helpful and informative. Thanks for all the work you guys do researching products.

    1. Suzanne Weaver-Goss Avatar
      Suzanne Weaver-Goss

      It is not a typo but it can be confusing. You actually want the filtered because it oxidizes more slowly. Olive oil like many healthy foods is best when it’s first harvested and made. It begins to oxidize immediately so if you buy the filtered you don’t have to worry as much about the particles that are subject to rot. Does that make more sense?

      1. LP Avatar

        [oh. then it is a typo. ^ please check again and you’ll see. thx for the question and clarification!]
        Excellent article. Love the Apollo oil! My mom orders that, and purely for taste. 🙂

        1. Maia James Avatar
          Maia James

          oops, you were right! That last sentence did say “unfiltered” when I meant “filtered.” Thanks for noticing!

    2. Robert Bisordi Avatar
      Robert Bisordi

      From what I gather, robustness in an olive oil indicates polyphenol content. That being said, I noticed that rather inexpensive Pompeian Extra-Virgin Robust Olive oil is VERY robust and peppery. Can I pretty much assume the polyphenol content is high?

      1. Robert Bisordi Avatar
        Robert Bisordi

        (Not on topic of above comment) Speaking of “sneaky stuff”, the description of Olea True conveniently lacks the ounce size, and even when magnifying it the ounce size is blurry. Instead, on their site they list the ounces in weight, which is pretty comical.