Olive oil is a common ingredient used in many recipes and is often considered a staple in the kitchen. But is olive oil gluten free? This article will explore that question and will share tips for selecting a high quality gluten free olive oil.
How Is Olive Oil Made?
Olive oil is made by extracting oil from olives. First, the olives are crushed using large stone wheels or steel drums, which break the olives down into a paste. The paste is then mixed to help separate the oil from the water and solids. The mixture is then pressed, and the oil is extracted. The extraction is typically done using a centrifuge, which separates the oil from the other components of the paste. Once the oil has been extracted, it is filtered and bottled.
There are different types of olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality olive oil and is made using only mechanical methods, with no use of chemicals or heat.
Is Olive Oil Gluten Free?
Pure olive oil is made simply by pressing the oil out of fresh olives, which does not involve any gluten. However, not all olive oil is created equal.
Some olive oils are flavored or infused with herbs or spices. These types of additives, even if they seem natural, may expose the olive oil to gluten.
As with all products, it is always best to read the label carefully and check for any added ingredients that may contain gluten and to confirm with the manufacturer that it is produced and bottled in an environment that is gluten free.
Tips for Choosing Olive Oil
When it comes to olive oil and its health benefits, quality matters. Poor quality olive oil may be diluted with inexpensive seed oils which can be detrimental to health. In addition, the way that olive oil is produced and stored can impact its polyphenol content as well as the extent to which the oil has been damaged through oxidation.
Here are some tips for purchasing olive oil:
- Look for a dark glass bottle: Light damages olive oil and contributes to oxidation, and plastic bottles can contain chemicals and microplastics. Plastic can also allow oxygen through which further contributes to oxidation.
- Look for a harvest date on the bottle: Unlike wine, olive oil does not improve with age. It is best to consume olive oil from the most recent harvest.
- Look for a source: Better olive oils will have full transparency around the source of the olives.
Gluten Free Olive Oil Brands
Below are a few brands of olive oil that are not only high quality oils from reputable companies, they are also gluten free.
Olive Oil in Condiments
The olive oils listed above are single ingredient oils that you can use in your own cooking at home. However, olive oil is also found in prepackaged condiments like salad dressings and mayonnaise. Unfortunately, many companies use low quality olive oil in condiments to keep the cost of the product low, and then highlight olive oil as a healthy ingredient.
It is important to read the label and research the manufacturers of these products as they might contain olive oil or other items that are not gluten free.
How to Store Olive Oil
Just as it is important to purchase olive oil in a dark glass bottle to preserve its beneficial properties, it is also important to properly store olive oil in your home. While levels of polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil will always decline over time, the way in which the oil is stored can influence the rate of this decline. One study found that total phenols in extra virgin olive oils decreased 52% to 65% when stored in plastic bottles that were exposed to light, 26% to 41% when in plastic bottles that were kept in darkness, but only 10% to 15% when kept in glass bottles that were kept in darkness. Flavor was impacted too: the “fruitiness” decreased in all instances but it decreased the least when the olive oil was stored in glass bottles.
Temperature of storage also impacts olive oil quality. Storage at cool to moderate temperature helps to reduce oxidation of extra virgin olive oil. A year-long study found that storage of unopened extra virgin olive oil that was kept at room temperature (in this study, 73.5 degrees fahrenheit) resulted in only a slight increase in levels of oxidized polyphenols, while storage at higher temperatures resulted in much higher increases.
Olive oil is made by extracting the oil from pressing fresh olives. In its natural form, it is gluten free and safe to use for those following a gluten free diet.
However, olive oil quality varies widely and olive oil can become contaminated with gluten during processing, so it is important to trust the source and producer of the olive oil you purchase.