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Grocery Store Finds: Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil for Total Health

Just short of a miracle weight loss drug, extra virgin olive oil is a dieter's BFF.

Regularly eating the stuff has been shown to boost levels of adiponectin, a hormone that breaks down fat. Beyond as an ally in the battle against the bulge, EVOO is a go-to pick for total health thanks to its heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. But it's not all good news: Even if you go out of your way to buy extra virgin olive oil over other varieties, that may not be what's inside the bottle.

Earlier this year, The National Consumers League (NCL) tested 11 different "extra virgin" olive oils from various grocery stores including Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Safeway and Giant. They discovered that six of them were not extra virgin oils. Some of the oils were simply treated in the wrong manner to be considered extra virgin (which diminishes the rich olive flavor and lowers the vitamin and mineral content). But in most cases, the bottles were actually filled with a mix of olive and soybean oil, a less costly source of fat that's been proven to cause weight gain in animals — and may have similar effects on humans.

But before you start panicking, keep reading: There were five oils that did pass the NCL's test, including:

California Olive Ranch "Extra Virgin Olive Oil"
Colavita "Extra Virgin Olive Oil"
Lucini "Premium Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil"
Trader Joe's "Extra Virgin California Estate Olive Oil"
Trader Joe's "100% Italian Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil"

Wondering which brands failed the test? Us, too! The NCL didn't release that information and, what's worse, there's no proven way for consumers to tell if an oil is the variety it claims to be. Your best bet is to stick with one of the confirmed purebred options above or incorporate a variety of other healthy fats into your diet.

Dana Leigh Smith
Dana has written for Women's Health, Prevention, Reader's Digest, and countless other publications. Read more about Dana Leigh