Much of the extra virgin olive oil found in stores is fake. That’s why my family has exclusively used Kasandrinos extra virgin olive oil since April 2019, when I met Tony Kasandrinos at the Paleo f(x) show* in Austin, TX.
In this review, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about olive oil in general and explain why we’ve been loyal to Kasandrinos, despite the countless alternatives available at the grocery store.
The Kasandrinos family has its roots in Greece, and making olive oil has been a family tradition for generations. Tony Kasandrinos, one of the brand’s co-founders, is a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and used to travel with a bottle of his family’s organic olive oil in his luggage.
Tony is also an avid CrossFitter and he used to give bottles of olive oil to his friends at a local CrossFit gym. The response to his oil was so overwhelmingly positive that he and his sister Effi decided to start importing his family’s product into the United States.
Health Benefits of High Quality Olive Oil
Because of its distinct taste and purported health benefits, olive oil has been used in the Mediterranean kitchen for ages.
To better understand the health benefits of olive oil, we have to look at its fatty acid composition (the molecules that make up the fat in the oil).
You’re probably familiar with the terms saturated, monounsaturated and poly-unsaturated fatty acids. Both saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids are (chemically) relatively stable and, as a result, you can subject them to high heat.
One specific monounsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid, has been shown in studies to reduce chronic inflammation and modulate the expression of certain genes that are linked to cancer.
Chronic inflammation is one of the leading factors in the development of metabolic diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and others. You can learn more about that here.
Extra virgin olive oil is also loaded with cell-protective polyphenols (antioxidants) and it contains modest amounts of vitamins E and K.
Additionally, extra virgin olive oil has antibacterial properties and has even proved to be moderately effective for treating the helicobacter pylori bacterium, an organism that causes stomach ulcers and that usually requires antibiotic treatment.
One of the key characteristics I look at when choosing fats or oils is their ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. As you might remember from some of my other blog posts, omega-3 is anti-inflammatory and omega-6 is pro-inflammatory.
Coincidentally, extra virgin olive oil has an unfavorable omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. However, only 11% of the oil’s fatty acids are polyunsaturated. So I don’t worry about it.
Personally, I don’t choose any food — olive oil included — because of individual health benefits. That’s because most food-related studies are observational in nature. Such studies might prove a correlation but not causation.
So don’t get too hung up on certain foods when you hear in the news that something “has been shown to decrease the risk of cancer.” That doesn’t mean eating that particular food will actually reduce your risk of developing cancer.
Instead, I look at the bigger picture and suggest you do the same. Olive oil is an excellent and delicious way to increase your fat intake without increasing your risk of inflammation or raising your blood glucose levels.
Any additional health benefits are icing on the (ketogenic paleo) cake.
How Olive Oil Is Made
Many micronutrients and fatty acids are easily destroyed by heat and harsh chemicals. That’s why it’s so important to choose olive oil that’s been carefully processed.
Extra virgin olive oil is usually made by cold-pressing the olive fruit without the use of high heat or any form of additives or solvents.
In comparison, refined olive oils are either pressed multiple times or the oil is extracted using high heat or chemicals. Either method reduces or destroys some of the oil’s nutritional attributes, such as its micronutrients and antioxidants.
Kasandrinos olive oil is cold-pressed only once and without the use of high heat or chemicals.
Why We Use Kasandrinos
We love Kasandrinos olive oil for numerous reasons, including:
- It’s certified organic and non-GMO.
- It’s made by a family-owned business in small batches.
- It’s incredibly fresh and made from the current year’s harvest.
- It tastes absolutely delicious.
- It’s single-origin, made from Greek Koroneiki olives sourced from Laconia, Greece.
- Kasandrinos performs a chemical analysis of every batch.
Some of the points above are also true for other brands of olive oil, including those you can find in select grocery stores.
However, I like to support small and family-owned businesses, and most of the oils in grocery stores are made by multinational brands that I feel less of a personal connection with.
More importantly, however, is the fact that Kasandrinos olive oil is super fresh. The company presses the olives within 24 hours of harvest and the oil you buy is always from the current year’s harvest.
Most of the big brands buy olive oil that’s been pressed months before it gets to warehouses, where it might sit for a couple more months. By the time the oil reaches your pantry, it might already be a year old.
As I noted previously, olive oil has a limited shelf life because it degrades over time. That means the fresher the oil is, the longer you can keep it in your pantry.
Kasandrinos suggests using its premium EVVO within 24 months. However, once you break the seal you should consume it within six months.
One of the things you can do to preserve the oil’s freshness is to store it in a cool, dark place. That’s why Kasandrinos ships all its oils in dark bottles or tin cans.
How We Use Kasandrinos EVVO
We use olive oil in numerous ways in the kitchen, including for salad dressings and frying. Since I’m on a ketogenic paleo diet, I always look for ways to increase my fat intake, regardless of what’s on my plate. That’s why I’ve gotten into the habit of pouring olive oil on most of my meals.
Similarly, my son Lucas was born prematurely and during his first few years of life, doctors were concerned about his pace of weight gain. To increase his caloric intake, we fed him spoonfuls of olive oil. He still loves it.
Additionally, I use Kasandrinos’ single-serving EVOO pouches* when traveling. They’re an excellent way to have a healthy and keto-friendly snack when I’m on the go, or when a restaurant I visit doesn’t have good olive oil.
EVVO is also a great option for baking because it increases the shelf-life of your baked goods thanks to its protective antioxidants.
When I drafted the first version of this article, we hadn’t used EVVO for baking yet. Coincidentally, on the same day, my wife told me that she baked keto bread using olive oil. What surprised me when I tried the bread was that I couldn’t tell it contained olive oil.
I’m telling you this because it means you can use olive oil for baking even if you don’t like its distinct flavor.
How Much Is Kasandrinos EVVO?
The Greek extra virgin olive oil made by the Kasandrinos family is not the cheapest oil you can buy. But in my opinion, it’s one of the best olive oils on the market and worth the asking price.
Plus, keep in mind that, according to an article in Forbes, much of the “extra virgin Italian olive oil” you find in stores is neither Italian nor virgin. Instead, it’s often a mix of olive oil and cheap, inflammatory canola oil.
That’s right: chances are that you have never tried real olive oil before, because most of the crap you find in stores is cut with vegetable oils. Check out this segment on CBS 60 Minutes for more information about the “agromafia” behind fake olive oil.
So you can’t really compare Kasandrinos with some of the fake supermarket oils.
That said, a one-liter bottle (34 fluid ounces) of Kasandrinos olive oil costs a little under $40. To get this liquid gold at a lower price, you can buy bundles or sign up for a subscription.
The latter offers a 50% discount on the first shipment and 10% on any orders that follow.
Additionally, you can use discount code MK to get an extra 10% off.
Frequently Asked Questions
Despite popular belief, extra virgin olive oil can be used for frying, thanks to its high concentration of heat-resistant monounsaturated fatty acids. You should know, however, that high heat can destroy some of the beneficial micronutrients in the oil.
When stored in a dark and cool place, a sealed bottle or tin of extra virgin olive oil stays fresh for up to 24 months. Once opened, you want to consume the oil within six months.
I recommend storing olive oil in a cool and dark place and without permanent exposure to air — ideally inside a closed tinted bottle or a tin can at room temperature. Sunlight, heat and air can expedite the oil’s degradation.
Just don’t go crazy. For example, you don’t have to refrigerate the oil. Doing so will make it solidify, and while that won’t harm the oil it does make it more difficult to use for cooking.
Extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest kind of olive oil because it contains the most micronutrients, including phenols, polyphenols and other antioxidants.
Some people still believe the lipid hypothesis, which suggests that the dietary intake of saturated fats (which olive oil is rich in) increases your risk of developing heart disease or atherosclerosis.
But evolution (and plenty of scientific research) has proven there is no correlation between eating saturated fats and cholesterol and disease.
The only thing you could ding olive oil for is its high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. But considering its relatively high smoke point (heat resistance), that’s not a real issue either.
EVOO has a smoke point of 350 to 410 degrees Fahrenheit (121 to 210 C), depending on the quality of the oil. The higher the quality, the higher the smoke point.
Plus, studies have shown that EVVO is incredibly stable even at high heat, likely due to its high amounts of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. That’s why it’s perfectly fine to bake or fry with extra virgin olive oil (despite what you might have heard in the news).
Olives (much like avocados) are fruits, not vegetables. Aside from that technical difference, you can extract oil from olives using a cold-pressing method. In comparison, most vegetable oils (which are actually seed oils) require high heat or chemicals to extract the oil from the seeds.
Yes, despite its unfavorable omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, olive oil is paleo-friendly. In contrast, olives (as in the fruit) aren’t considered paleo because making fresh olives requires ridiculous amounts of salts at nearly every step of processing.
Yes, olive oil is absolutely compatible with a ketogenic lifestyle. It’s certainly one of the staples in my keto/paleo lifestyle.
Yes, olive oil is vegan and a great option for people who follow a vegan keto diet.
Extra virgin olive oil is one of the best dietary fats on the planet. But I wouldn’t go so far as claiming that it’s the healthiest option.
From an evolutionary perspective, humans evolved consuming most of their fat from animal sources. I would argue that fat from pasture-raised, grass-fed or wild-caught animals is best for our genetic makeup.
I don’t know at what point in evolution humans started figuring out how to make oil by pressing the olive fruit. Stone writings dating back to 2,500 BC, from the court of King Minos of Crete, make reference to the olive oil tree. So it’s conceivable that humans have consumed olive oil for a couple of thousand years.
That’s a relatively narrow time frame compared to the 2.6 million years of human evolution.
Most of the world’s olive oil is produced in Greece, Italy, Morocco, Spain and Turkey. That’s because the olive tree is native to the Mediterranean basin — the region around the Mediterranean sea.
Yes. Olives, and thus olive oil, are not natural sources of gluten.
Besides using it in salad dressings, you can use it for frying, baking and sauteing. It’s also great for making homemade mayonnaise; all you need is an immersion blender and a handful of ingredients!
Of course, you can also just do what our little one does and eat it with a spoon.
Kasandrinos Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil Review
I love the taste of fresh and authentic olive oil, and I pour (not drizzle) it over most of the food I eat. EVVO is just a great and delicious way to increase my intake of healthy fats.
We use Kasandrinos because they hand-pick their olives and press the fruit within 24 hours of harvesting. Plus, the oil we get from them is always from the current year’s harvest and thus much fresher than anything we could buy in the supermarket.
I encourage you to give Kasandrinos a try and find out how authentic olive oil tastes. In particular, when compared to the supermarket brand you might be using right now.
If you do give it a try, let me know how you like it by leaving a comment below!