Speaker 1: 00:00 Welcome to the Dr. Gundry podcast, the weekly podcast where Dr. G gives you the tools you need to boost your health and live your healthiest life.
Dr. Gundry: 00:15 Did you know that there’s a super food that’s so good for you? Many people in Spain and Italy take a shot of it every morning. Yeah, it’s true. The superfood I’m talking about is olive oil. I’m talking about extra virgin olive oil specifically is arguably the most nutrient dense food you can put in your body. It’s loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols. The superfood can help promote healthy cholesterol levels, regulate your blood pressure, strengthen your immune system and actually feed your brain. In fact, it’s so good for you, I tell my patients the only purpose of food is to get olive oil into your mouth. But not all Olive oil is equal. Today my guests and I are going to discuss why.
In just a moment I’ll speak with the olive oil hunter, T.J. Robinson. As the founder of the Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club. TJ imports flavorful premium olive oil from all over the world to the United States year-round. Today we’ll discuss the health benefits of using olive oil and what you should look for when selecting an olive oil. We’ll talk about easy and delicious ways to incorporate this nutrient powerhouse into your diet. TJ, welcome to the program.
T.J. Robinson: 01:38 Thank you. So happy and honored to be here.
Dr. Gundry: 01:41 [crosstalk 00:01:41].
T.J. Robinson: 01:42 No, you’re like my poster user. Whenever someone says to me, “Can I use too much olive oil?” I always say Dr. Gundry uses about a liter a week. You’re my poster boy user.
Dr. Gundry: 01:56 Well, and I’m a big fan of your misses that you send out. So you were a chef and a food journalist on your first tour to Sicily when your love affair with olive oil began. Tell me about that experience.
T.J. Robinson: 02:14 Sure, absolutely. So, yes, I was working and living in New York city, working for a food network. At that time I had the opportunity to travel to Sicily right at harvest time. I tasted something that changed my life and that was fresh-pressed olive oil. Being like most Americans growing up not tasting fresh olive oil, living around olives. I did live in California where we only produce these days, about 5% of what we consume in the US is produced in the US, the rest is all imported. So it was really my first time being there at the actual press and it’s kind of like the difference in like fresh-pressed Apple cider or fresh-pressed OJ versus like canned concentrate or something like that, that I was used to as an American. So it was a big epiphany to me and of course I wanted to being the chef I love to share. So I wanted to bring it home to share it with my friends and family and fellow chefs. Anyway, it was a big moment for me.
Dr. Gundry: 03:19 I think, it’s interesting that this occurred in Sicily because I’m actually a huge fan of Sicilian olive oils. I’ve actually adopted a grove in Sicily-
T.J. Robinson: 03:32 Wow.
Dr. Gundry: 03:33 … for some of my own olive oil.
T.J. Robinson: 03:35 That’s super cool.
Dr. Gundry: 03:37 We’re going to get talking about that. So a lot of people probably don’t know that how the olives are grown, the soil conditions, the stress that the olives go through makes a difference just like a great wine.
T.J. Robinson: 03:57 Absolutely. Absolutely.
Dr. Gundry: 03:59 So you’re going around the world to find this stuff. Why don’t you take me through that? What makes a great olive oil?
T.J. Robinson: 04:07 Sure. So for me, freshness is definitely key when you talk about health benefits and polyphenols and all the high levels of antioxidants that you want in a really healthy olive oil, something you really want to have as part of your healthy diet. You want to look for fresh oil, which means I follow the global harvest. So I’m one of those rare breeds that every quarter I travel, whether we’re in the Mediterranean, which would mean Italy and Greece and Spain and Portugal. Then I travel South of the equator for their season, their fall, which is opposite of the Mediterranean and our summertime. So I’m there in Chile and Argentina, which Chile has beautiful fruit. I mean the climate, the Mediterranean like climate zone in Chile is beautiful. Then I’m just home actually, if I have bags under my eyes you’ll know why. I’ve got jet lag. I’m just home from Australia, hanging out with the kangaroos and the olive groves over there where they also grow wonderful olive oil.
So freshness and following the seasonality, those polyphenols and healthy antioxidants, they decline rapidly over time. So about six months they start to deteriorate after the pressing. So for me, I’m on the global quest of freshness which is a high quality indicator, of course picking the fruit very green that makes a great olive oil. So if an olive is green when it’s harvested, it will have about 10% yield inside the fruit, 10% oil. If you let that same olive hang on the tree until it’s completely black, you could get up to 30% olive oil. So unfortunately the oil quality and the health benefits of the higher levels of oil are not there. It’s a healthy fat, yes, but you’re not getting the antioxidants, the polyphenols, all the plant sterols and all the health benefits you could be getting from a very early harvest oil.
So that’s why kind of like the Tuscans early on were very big. Like people would say a Tuscan style olive oil or the olive oil from Tuscany is the best because they had a tradition in Tuscany to pick the very green fruit. They were one of the first people to do that and harvest that very green, flavorful antioxidant powerhouse. So in general my palette goes toward that fresh green powerhouse style of oils as you’re used to like in the trio that I sent to you.
Dr. Gundry: 06:57 I think that’s a good point. Now sometimes in America we see the words nuovo olio or nuovo olive oil, is that a sign that these were picked greener?
T.J. Robinson: 07:09 It can be a sign. Usually it’s a sign of freshness, but I have some issues with that because sometimes they’ll bottle it in clear bottles to show off its fancy color. Which is great if you can consume it within the first few months of harvest. But unfortunately with these, some olive oils, people think like unfiltered and they look for a really cloudy olive oil. And that can be good the first few months of harvest, after harvest. So first of all, always looking at harvest date, single estate farms. But what happens is in an unfiltered oil, and if you lightly filter the oil or let it naturally settle before you bottle it, what can happen if there is sediment in the bottom of the bottle that starts to ferment. So there’s water in there, there’s vegetable yeast and that causes defects in the oil. So a high quality olive oil from a professional taster standpoint should have no defects in the oil to be considered extra virgin. It shouldn’t be non-defective. So you would get those defects if all that sediment was on the bottom and starting to ferment over time. But typically that is an early harvest style oil. That is a category. Some marketers have kind of latched onto that term. But it’s not novello or nuovo if it’s nine months old. So you got to check your harvest date, that’s key.
Dr. Gundry: 08:39 I think that’s a great point. It’s a point I make in all my podcasts and videos that you really need to see a harvest date on the label.
T.J. Robinson: 08:50 Absolutely.
Dr. Gundry: 08:51 The other thing that I warn people is that the sell by date or use by date, it’s horrible number one. I mean, tell me why that is.
T.J. Robinson: 09:06 Sure. That’s a super great question because really that is placed on there at the time of bottling, not the time of pressing, especially if you’re buying from one of the big bottle bottlers, where they import a lot of different oils from a lot of different countries. And you can see on there when it says like sourced from and you see the initials of eight different countries, how much micro management do they really have of that product? I mean olives after all are fruit, right? So we have to think of them like fresh fruit juice. Yes, unfortunately it’s based a lot of times on bottle date, not on when the fruit was harvested or it was actually pressed. So yes, it’s best to always look for a harvest date, dark bottle, single estate, those sorts of tips for sure.
Dr. Gundry: 10:01 Yeah, I’ve been shocked even going into gourmet grocery stores or gourmet wine shops and seeing these, what appear to be gorgeous, expensive olive oils. In fact, I was in one last weekend and I always pick up and look on the back and many of these were pressed in 2015 and 2016 and they’re selling for 50 and $60 a bottle. And I’ve gone, “What the heck are these doing here in this high-class store?”
T.J. Robinson: 10:35 Yeah. That is absolutely true. Americans have been kind of tricked into buying like fancy bottles with nice cut glass and beautiful labels and honestly it’s tough, it’s really tough. The American, the big bottlers are doing a better job than they were. They’re transitioning away from the clear plastic bottles and over to at least tinted glass light or tinted plastic. The PET bottles does keep some of the light out. Fluorescent lighting in grocery stores, not ideal for olive oil. Light destroys olive oil. So the big bottlers are trying to do better and are succeeding on some fronts. There’s a place in the olive oil market for everyone, whether you’re the everyday consumer or if you’re really focused on your health and want to use olive oil as a conduit and backbone to your healthy lifestyle. Which is where we fall, we fall in that camp. So we want the best we can get our hands on.
Dr. Gundry: 11:41 So you’re all over the world. I mean, give me a few of your greatest adventures. I mean, how do you find these individual producers? I mean, you get off the plane and call Uber and say, “Hi, I want to find a great olive oil producer.” I don’t think so.
T.J. Robinson: 11:59 No. Well, for me it really starts with your relationships. So I started in about 2004, 2005, importing, tasting and importing olive oil. I really started to educate my own palette and that’s what I advocate for consumers to do today, is to really educate their palette. So what I do, I of course have my producers, my let’s say contenders, who I work with, who are let’s say in Italy for example. Up North I have the Perinetti family that I love, a great Tuscan family. I’ve worked with them for many years. If it’s not a good year in Tuscany, I can go further South to let’s say Calabria. I can hang out with one of my families there, Librandi who has great fruit, great machinery, beautiful olives, or I can move down to Sicily. That’s one of the issues it’s important to bring up.
It’s not easy to just pick one producer and consistently purchase from that producer because olives are fruit and every year they are different. So it’s really hard to have one grove that’s very consistent, high quality, high polyphenol olive oil just because of the ebb and flow of the fruit trees and how they produce. In fact, typically they produce much more one year and much less the next year. So on the lower year they may be pushing the fruit, letting it get a little riper on the tree, extracting it, pressing it at a little higher temperature to extract a little more oil. Because their mortgage payments, they don’t change year to year.
Dr. Gundry: 13:41 They’re farmers after all, right?
T.J. Robinson: 13:43 They’re farmers. That’s right. So it’s a relationship building, trust, having a stable of important winners and important global competitions in olive oil. So for example there’s a guide in Italy called Flos Olei. Flos Olei has a guide, it’s got about 400 producers around the world that are ranked. And every year they have a top 20, the coveted Flos Olei top 20. Every year they choose 20 farms around the world who are the top scorers and represent certain categories that they have and they invite them to Rome. It’s kind of like winning an Oscar except in the olive oil world. There’s this group called the Flos Olei, top 20. So I was at, actually I think it was Paleo f(x) I was at, and I had on the table, two of my most recent selections. I had my trio from Spain and Portugal, which had three beautiful oils in it, that sent out in March. I had my Chilean selection, which I sent out in June to my club members. In that group alone, five of the six producers in those trios were Flos Olei top 20 winners.
So I really work with the farmers who are already winning and working at a very high level. Then I’m kind of like the chef who comes in and wants to make my own sauce. Because I think of olive oil as more like a sauce that mother nature made for me. So I come in and using different olive varieties, there are about 550 in Italy alone that have different flavor characteristics, polyphenol levels, spiciness, bitterness, fruitiness. I go in and I blend different olive varieties together to create a flavor profile. See in that trio you have in front of you, there’s a mild, a medium and a bold in every trio. So what I try to do is create those flavor profiles and use the best of what they can get. I may have them tweak the harvest a little bit or change the pressing time for more aromas and more flavor. So it’s a really, I totally geek out on it, so I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole too much. Anyway, that’s a lot of fun.
Dr. Gundry: 16:02 Well, you’re right. I did a little tasting myself this morning and you’re right, there’s definitely a mild, a heartier and a more heartier. [crosstalk 00:16:12] Tell me about a lot of people, obviously there’s characteristics in olive oil, just like there’s characteristics in wine. It sounds like comparing wine industry, you’re a negotiant. You’re taking olives from different trees, from different producers and making your blend.
T.J. Robinson: 16:33 That’s right. I mostly like 9.99% of the time I work with one farm and one farmer to get their fruit. For example, in Italy, I may have to pull in some cousins who have some trees, some family members and someone who owns the community mill just because it’s a small time operation. But these are very boutique, artisanal oils that people serve to their family and friends. Most of these oils are not exported. I think that relationship that I’ve built over time with the world’s top producers allow me their best stuff. It’s kind of like me and my wife, we love to have dinner parties and host dinner parties and we hardly ever invite a guest to our dinner parties that don’t like food and wine. So it’s kind of like my producers recognize that my 15,000 club members, they’re very passionate about their product and they’re big appreciators and they get a lot of good feedback. So for them it’s like having 15,000 guests over that they can share their fresh oil. When I say fresh, I actually fly it in by jet every quarter which really sets oil apart. I’m a total control freak about the olive all the way from the time it’s plucked from the tree until it’s in the bottle and shipped directly to someone’s store. If I could hand carry it to all my members doors, I definitely would, but there’s a lot of them out there.
Dr. Gundry: 18:05 So that’s great. So we’re going to go to a quick break and when we come back we’re going to talk about, well is an olive oil and olive oil and more on that subject.
Is eating lectin free safe for my children? How about during pregnancy? Dr. G, how on earth can I afford to feed my entire family on the plant paradox eating program? In my latest book, the Plant Paradox Family Cookbook, 81 pot recipes to nourish your family using your instant pot, slow cooker or sheet pan. These questions and more will be answered. Plus there’s delicious recipes of comfort food you love like cheesecake and mac and cheese made with ingredients that actually love you back. The book comes out on November 19th but why wait, pre-order your copy today wherever you buy books online.
And we’re back to the Dr. Gundry podcast and today we’re talking with T.J. Robinson, the olive oil hunter. TJ, Everybody says, “Oh, come on olive oil is olive oil. I’m just going to go down and get the cheapest stuff.” Why is that a mistake?
T.J. Robinson: 19:22 Yes. Well, you’re not getting the health benefits of olive oil if you do that. A, you’re getting a good decent fat source but you’re not getting all the advantages or the antioxidants and polyphenols when you’re looking at single estate harvest fresh oils. It’s a lack of control. So yes, unfortunately the American consumer, the vast majority of them don’t see the high value of investing in their health. So they’ve had to create, they let the olives hang on the tree longer, so you get more yield, lower health qualities in that oil and that sold at a cheaper price point. So it’s really a bulk buyer, bulk game. And like I said, there’s room for everybody in this market. But really if you want the olive oil to be the backbone of your healthy cooking, like you said, you just eat, so you have something to put your olive oil on. I’m wondering how you support your habit. I know why you have so many great products and I’m a big fan.
Dr. Gundry: 20:36 Bless you.
T.J. Robinson: 20:37 Yeah, thank you. Well, I know you have to have an income stream to support your olive oil habit because you’re not buying the junk. You’re buying small dark glass bottles, you’re not buying those big jugs. So small dark glass containers that retains freshness and really keeps your olive oil in its best date.
Dr. Gundry: 21:04 Now it’s been said that America is the dumping ground for olive oil. Is that true or is that overstating the case?
T.J. Robinson: 21:13 It’s gotten a lot better in the last few years, thank God. Really it has gotten a lot better, the big bulk producers and bottlers of the world have … UC Davis did a study, it’s been quite a few years ago now about a decade where they pulled a lot of olive oil from the shelves of supermarkets in California in three different locations and they tested the oil to see if it was extra virgin or not. And approximately 60, 70% of it was not extra virgin at all. So the 60 Minutes has done a great piece on olive oil and olive oil mafia and olive oil fraud in the last year or two. There’s still some fraud that goes on in olive oil. The olive oil mafia and the agromafia is real. They deal with it in Italy. We deal with it in the US. Everyone’s doing better, but there’s still some ways to go, absolutely.
Dr. Gundry: 22:19 All right, you brought up extra virgin olive oil. What the heck is extra virgin?
T.J. Robinson: 22:25 Okay, so extra virgin is the highest category of olive oil that’s contained, it’s produced using solely mechanical means. So that means there’s no heat involved, there’s no chemicals involved. It’s really the highest category. So it’s got to have a very low level of acidity. Acidity in olive oil is not something you can taste. So consumers can’t really identify acidity. What acidity tells you when you’re doing a chemistry panel is the quality level of the fruit. So it’s all about the quality level of the fruit. So were they picked immediately and taken to the mill immediately or did they sit around for 48 hours? Were they really ripe fruit and they were placed in the back of a dump truck to produce bulk oil? Or were they placed in small crates and carried to the mill? Were they left in the sun? Was there fly damage? So all these things deteriorate the fruit and will raise your acidity level. So you want a very low acidity level in the olive oil and to be extra virgin.
Honestly, the extra virgin category is actually pretty wide. Like for example, in my oils are third party tested by a lab in Italy. To be considered extra virgin, it needs to be 0.8% or less of acidity. So the lower acidity, the better. So for example, I’m just pulling up a couple of my recent labs, mine were not even at the 0.2 level. So very, very low acidity. So that’s what you want to look for. Some bottlers who actually put that on the label if they’re super quality minded. Look at sources like Flos Olei, look at national competitions, look at the California olive oil competition that happens at the LA County fair. Those are some good tips for identifying and just educating your palette and tasting olive oil and understanding what to look for, are the best things you can do.
Dr. Gundry: 24:40 All right, so you’ve judged all of oil competitions, you’ve trained your palette. First of all, how does somebody taste an olive oil? And looking at the acidity question, some people when they had the pepper hit them in the back of the throat or they cough. Some people equate that with acidity, but that has nothing to do with acidity.
T.J. Robinson: 25:05 Not at all.
Dr. Gundry: 25:06 That’s polyphenol content, right?
T.J. Robinson: 25:09 Yes.
Dr. Gundry: 25:09 Okay, so tell me how to taste an olive oil. Do you gargle it?
T.J. Robinson: 25:13 Yeah. Well you can, but you’re going to cough probably especially my olive oil. So a Tuscan is funny, you mentioned that peppery pinch and that a Tuscan, once I was tasting oil with the Tuscan family and they’re like, “Oh, TJ, that’s a two cough oil.” And I’m like, “What do you mean?” This is my early days. There’s like, “In Tuscany, we say a one cough oil, a two cough oil or a three cough oil.” I’m like, “Oh, okay, I get this. So this is what I’m supposed to be looking for.” So I’ve been educated along the way through, over the years as well. But basically when you take an olive oil and I know you have some in front of you and you tasted some earlier today. I have a little just for demo. I’m just going to use a wine glass because it’s what I have handy. And you can see this beautiful green color. Color is not necessarily an indicator of quality. As a professional taster, we taste in blue tasting cups. These blue tasting cups actually disguise the color of the oil because they don’t want that to sway your opinion on an oil.
Because like I was saying, different varieties of olives have different levels of chlorophyll that end up in the oil and how it was pressed. So of course there are some people out there who cheat and add, what we’re talking, that’s part of the mafia, what’s been said many times over in media, mass media. But anyway, you take an olive oil and we place it in a small cup. Usually it’s a glass cup and you swirl it around. And I put my hand under the oil and I’m doing that. Normally I would have about a tablespoon in my little tasting cup, which is almost like a shot glass or a small glass candle holder. But I’m warming up though oil. So first step, it smells amazing. First of all, you want to smell the oil. That’s step one. So you want to smell fruitiness, you want to smell things like grassiness, arugula. You want to smell green banana. You may get things like artichoke, like it should be like a bouquet of freshness. You should feel like you’ve been transported to an olive field.
Dr. Gundry: 27:33 I’m going to stop you right there because there’s a producer in a little shop in Old Town Nice who makes an olive oil that tastes exactly like bananas. I didn’t believe it and I hunted him down. It’s really hard to find. He calls it banana olive oil and it tastes and smells [crosstalk 00:27:56] just like a banana. So sorry to interrupt, but you’re right.
T.J. Robinson: 27:58 No, but I’m glad you say that because there is a particular variety that does have a lot of green banana characteristics is Arbequina. It’s a widely planted olive oil, especially in California because it grows in hedge rows quite easily. It’s really easy to harvest by machine so you can cut your production costs down and get it to the mill. It’s a kind of a one trick pony, but it really is still can make a very nice oil. So Arbequina has a lot of that banana flavor, banana candy. So step one is assessing the nose and like I was saying like in this one, and you actually have this one in front of you too. It’s the Alonzo estate from Chile. It was harvested in mid May when I was there and my club members had it in mid June. That if you just open and smell, [crosstalk 00:28:52] probably smell. It’s got things like tomato leaf.
Definitely arugula, basil like it … So step one is smelling the oil. Step two is taking a small sip of the oil, I would say about half a teaspoon and just letting it roll around on your palette because you want to assess. One, you’re going to notice, especially if it’s fresh high quality oil, you’re going to notice bitterness. Two, you’re going to notice that spicy pinch and I may cough too. But that spicy pinch, so the bitterness tells you it’s from very green fruit. So that’s important characteristic. So fruitiness, bitterness and the third thing we’re looking for is spiciness. The spiciness tells you it’s fresh. So that’s the third element we’re looking for.
So that’s how you assess the oil from the tasting standpoint. That’s really the best thing you can do. Obviously looking at harvest date, glass bottles, stores with high turnover, not that wine shop you were at the other day selling fancy bottles. Then you had another question I think I’ve forgotten, but maybe it was related to the bitterness of oil.
Dr. Gundry: 30:09 So when I’m trying to get people to like olive oil when they’ve been using canola oil or peanut oil or corn oil, God forbid. They go, this stuff it’s too spicy. How do you transition people? I mean, for instance, I hope a lot of people are watching us on video because that oil you have is really dark, dark green. Look at that, I mean it’s almost black and people go, “That’s not olive oil.” Olive oil, it’s clear almost. So how do you train somebody to like this stuff? [crosstalk 00:31:00] Is it like learning to drink black coffee?
T.J. Robinson: 31:03 Yeah. Well, that’s funny. First of all, transitioning from like a standard American diet. Yes, you’ve transitioned a lot of people away from that into a healthier lifestyle and incorporating more vegetables and that sort of thing. But one thing you can do is use the olive oil in things like vinegarette where you don’t necessarily taste the olive oil directly. Another way you could do it, you would taste it, your salad would taste better with it. But it’s not going to immediately add that that flavor to your mouth. The other thing you can do is pair it with foods that are inherently bitter and spicy already such as arugula-
Dr. Gundry: 31:48 Arugula.
T.J. Robinson: 31:49 … or kale maybe on kale or something like that. So it’s already got green and I like to compare the difference between let’s say store-bought olive oil and fresh-pressed olive oil as the difference between dried herbs and fresh herbs. So if you’re a fan, someone who loves the essential oil characters and all the flavor punch that you get from fresh herbs. Or if you’re like, “No, I don’t like fresh herbs. I only use dried herbs.” Yeah, dried herbs you should probably stick to more of a ripe style olive oil, maybe that’s a little lower quality, more cost effective. If you’re a fan of fresh herbs and robust flavors, you want to go with a very early harvest, very green fruit, very fresh olive oil.
Dr. Gundry: 32:37 Yeah. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to talk with the minister of olive oil in Italy. He makes a very good point. He said, “There is absolutely no proof that oleic acid, which is the mono unsaturated fat in olive oil …” Olive oil is not just oleic acid, but it’s the major fat in olive oil. He says, “There no proof that oleic acid has any major benefit over any other oil or mono unsaturated fat.” He said, “It’s a carrier for the polyphenols and the antioxidants.” He said, “We have to understand that.” I think that was a very important point. There’s nothing unique about this fat. It’s what it’s carrying to us.
T.J. Robinson: 33:33 It’s a carrier. When you put high quality extra virgin olive oil like my oils on food, your body accepts the nutrients even at a higher level. If you drizzle it … So when my wife and I, my wife’s a great cook in our family and when she sets a table with salt and pepper, the olive oil goes on the table at the same time because we’re splashing it on the way. Some people who eat ketchup, we’ll be drizzling it on our broccoli or green beans or whatever, whether it’s pork or whatever. It’s always drizzled with mother nature sauce. So for us, we use it that way to I guess absorb more nutrients to get more nutrient value of the foods we’re already eating for their health value.
Dr. Gundry: 34:32 That’s a great point. It’s something I just absolutely, first thing I tell my patients is, yeah, cook with olive oil, but olive oil has to come to the table. You’re absolutely right. It’s right next to the salt and pepper and in any home in Italy, in any Trattoria in Italy, they bring the bottle to the table and it’s the foods to deliver olive oil.
T.J. Robinson: 34:59 Absolutely. I don’t decamp mine into a clear cruet, where sunlight can get to it and things like that. Like I prefer to store it in the cabinet with my salt and pepper, we like a really clean area, more minimalist look in our home. So we keep things away. But when it’s time to set the table, it’s the same as putting silverware on the table. It comes out and that’s our habit. So I’m not a big fan of clear cruet and that sort of thing for and buying big jugs of olive oil. Oxygen kills olive oil, light kills olive oil and high temperature kills olive oil. Now the nice thing you mentioned cooking with olive oil and I think that’s something we [crosstalk 00:35:42].
Dr. Gundry: 35:42 That’s our next subject.
T.J. Robinson: 35:43 Okay. Good. So go ahead.
Dr. Gundry: 35:46 So we’ve actually had a fat expert on our program. One of the myths that is out there that I tried to spell and hopefully you’ll join me on this. Olive oil, everybody says, “Well, heat damages olive oil because you can’t cook with it because it’s smokes and that’s proof that it’s damaged.” Olive oil has a low smoke point. It starts smoking fairly early, but it turns out it is the least oxidizable oil there is. It actually oxidizes less than coconut oil, which is kind of the gold standard. So can you cook with olive oil?
T.J. Robinson: 36:28 Absolutely. I walk into every Italian Spanish kitchen and that grandmother who’s in her 90s is cooking everything. Whether it’s the chicken Parmesan or whether she fries it in it, she sautes in it, she roasts her peppers in it. Like there’s nothing that they’re not using olive oil for in the Mediterranean and getting all the benefits of fresh oil there at least once a year. Even if you were to live in Italy, you would only have access to fresh oil once a year. So you can cook with olive oil. I would say that the higher level of antioxidants and polyphenol level in the oil to begin with actually protects the oil when you’re cooking with it. So in my home, I love fried eggs for breakfast, so Megan will make some fried eggs for me and she knows to cook my eggs over … She’s like I said, a great cook, but she cooks my eggs over medium, low heat and she does that in the fresh-pressed olive oil.
Honestly, I can’t tell the difference between the fresh oil that was placed into the pan and what’s on my plate after the fact that I … Because we’re pretty heavy users in our household like you. I’m taking one from your playbook. So it doesn’t break down if you cook at a lower temperature. And just respect like tip would be don’t heat the pan with the oil inside, heat the pan on the stove then add your oil, then add your other component. That just keeps your oil from sitting there oxidizing and breaking down. So that’s just one little takeaway [crosstalk 00:38:16].
Dr. Gundry: 38:16 Great tip.
T.J. Robinson: 38:17 Yeah.
Dr. Gundry: 38:17 All right. Well, with that tip I think we’re going to finish up.
T.J. Robinson: 38:23 Sure.
Dr. Gundry: 38:24 TJ, where can people find you and get more information about you and your work and your olive oil club.
T.J. Robinson: 38:32 Awesome. Well, I appreciate you asking. Obviously I know your listeners are heavy users and you’re really good at teaching people the quality olive oil is out there and how to get your hands on it. So my job is part olive oil sommelier and part olive oil concierge. So not only do I sift through the million now out there to make my curated trio every quarter, but then I concierge it right to your door every quarter flown in by air. So the best way for your listeners, I’ve set up a very special deal for them where they get their first bottle for $1. It’s part of my mission and the families I work with to get people educated on quality olive oil. So we want people to have that epiphany that I had in Sicily. And to do that, your listeners would need to go to getfresh36.com.
There they would pick up their $1 bottle, it’d be a full size bottle and they would be able to try that. Then within usually about a month, they get their first three bottles set. There’s no obligation, it’s a onetime purchase. It’s your trial for joining the club. I want you to try it, love it, be passionate about it and see the difference in your own health, your brain health, your gut health and all the other benefits that you could probably go on days on about Dr. Gundry. But anyway, it’s getfresh36.com.
Dr. Gundry: 40:10 So many of our listeners, probably most of our listeners are not gourmet enough or may not have the means to join your club, which is a great club. Give us some tips if we’re going to Costco or the grocery store or whole foods. What do we look for?
T.J. Robinson: 40:34 You want to look for harvest date number one. So harvest date is very important. So if that’s not disclosed on the label, I would not purchase it. Two, I would look for dark colored glass. That’s essential because light destroys olive oil. The next thing I would look for is a store with high turnover. Like the wine shop you mentioned earlier that had oils that were pressed back in 15, no. Ideally you want to consume an oil within one year of pressing, if it’s to be be considered fresh-pressed, you would want it within about six months of pressing. That’s kind of the ideal window. Buying in smaller containers because there’s less oxygen getting to the oil. Looking for the words early harvest and single estate. Maybe I’ve mentioned that one, maybe I haven’t. But single estate is important because you know one producers had their hands on that product and has managed it all the way through. There are some brands out there like California olive ranch that does a pretty good job [crosstalk 00:41:39].
Dr. Gundry: 41:39 I agree.
T.J. Robinson: 41:42 They’re doing a good job with education and there’s some producers in California as well. If you’re lucky enough to live there, go to your local farmer’s market, taste the oil, know your producer. My members obviously have me and they know I’m certifying their oil and it’s independently third-party tested and it’s a relationship business. But start to build a relationship with your local farmer. There are some oil being pressed in Texas as well, from what I understand, Arizona and maybe Florida and a little in Georgia. So anyway, make it a weekend around harvest time in October. Go on an olive oil adventure and educate your palette.
Dr. Gundry: 42:25 Great. Let’s talk about another myth out there that the way to test real olive oil is to put it in the refrigerator.
T.J. Robinson: 42:36 So there was a famous TV MD that did a segment a while back that said, “Place your bottle of olive oil in the refrigerator to see if it solidifies, if it does not solidify it is not extra virgin olive oil.” Well, unfortunately that has been debunked. That is a myth. In fact, the UC Davis did a special report on it. This MD has a lot of influence out there. And of course I got a lot of emails for my club members saying, “I put my olive oil in the fridge.” I’m like, “Well, I’ve got my lab report right here that says it’s the highest level in the world and I’ve hand curated it and nurtured it from the tree all the way to your table. So I know every step that’s happened to it in the last month and a half since it was hanging on the tree.” But yes, so refrigerator test is not accurate. You wouldn’t be able to tell acidity levels just by refrigeration or polyphenol level or anything like that. It’s not accurate.
Dr. Gundry: 43:43 And there are other fats in olive oil besides oleic acid.
T.J. Robinson: 43:49 Yes, exactly. The waxes that are on the outside of the fruit. Every olive fruit has different levels of waxiness on the outside and the plant sterols and all the different levels and layers that you would see inside of a bottle of fresh oil. So yeah, it’s not accurate
Dr. Gundry: 44:10 Shelf life of olive oil, when should we use it up?
T.J. Robinson: 44:13 Sure. So really if you’re going with a high polyphenol olive oil, the polyphenols themselves protect the olive oil from breaking down, not only when you’re cooking with it, but when you’re storing it. So if you look for early harvest, green fruit, low yield, usually higher price point, obviously because there’s less oil inside the fruit when it’s harvested and you have to pay the farmers more. You want to use that oil really within six months is considered fresh-pressed and you really want to use it within about a year. Obviously the higher the polyphenol count is, it extends the shelf life. So if you were to open one of these bottles in front of you Dr. Gundry, let’s say even a year and a half from now, they’re still going to be pretty impressive and better than what you would find in most supermarkets at that time.
Dr. Gundry: 45:07 But if you’re in my house, this bottle ought to be gone in about a week.
T.J. Robinson: 45:14 Yes. Thank God, you’re a heavy user. Thank you.
Dr. Gundry: 45:18 All right, well thanks again for joining us and this has been great because every day is a great day to have some olive oil.
T.J. Robinson: 45:27 Yes, sir. Thank you.
Dr. Gundry: 45:27 All right.
T.J. Robinson: 45:27 I appreciate it.
Dr. Gundry: 45:28 Thank you. [crosstalk 00:45:30]. Now, stay tuned because we’ve got a couple of questions. Here’s a question from the winning athlete on Instagram. I’m getting great results with your diet. Well, thank you. I’ve been having hunger problems. I really want to suppress my hunger without eating meat because meat causes us to age. Could you please tell me how to spell suppress my hunger? Well, I think there’s a lot of options for athletes without eating meat. Obviously I’m a huge fan of nuts, but I’ve had so many of my patients tell me that the plant based protein powders, particularly like hemp or flaxseed or Spirulina-based protein powers really fill you up. That’s not to promote mine because there are plenty of hemp-based flaxseed-based spirulina-based protein powders. Please be careful with most plant protein powders that are on the market because almost all of them have tested positive for glyphosate residue.
That’s Roundup residue. Even the organic ones have tested positive. So just buyer beware plus most the plant protein powders out there are either brown rice protein or pea protein and those are absolute no-nos in the Plant Paradox Program. So great question, fill up on nuts or get yourself some flaxseed, Spirulina and or hemp seed protein. So that’s all for today. Thanks for listening to the Dr. Gundry Podcast. We’ll see you next week.
Thanks for joining me on this episode of the Dr. Gundry Podcast. Before you go, I just wanted to remind you that you can find the show on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you want to watch each episode of the Dr. Gundry Podcast, you can always find me on YouTube at youtube.com/doctorgundry, because I’m Dr.Gundry and I’m always looking out for you.