Harvard Men's Health Watch

On call: Olive oil and health

Q. I've read that olive oil is good for health, but is extra virgin olive oil worth the extra cost, or is it just another trendy gimmick?

A. You probably should be asking a chef, not a doctor. Extra virgin olive oil is trendy — so popular, in fact, that menus in many high-style restaurants boast of serving "EVOO," the in-crowd's acronym for extra virgin olive oil.

Gentrification notwithstanding, people in the know say that extra virgin olive oil has a characteristic zesty, almost pungent flavor that is missing from ordinary olive oil, which is bland, if less expensive. There is a chemical explanation for the difference between the two types of olive oil, and it may have implications for health as well as flavor.

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