How is Olive Oil Tested For Quality?

Not all olive oils are the same. From pomace to olive oil to extra virgin olive oil, US and International Standards require a variety of analyses for quality and grade. Read on for the different tests performed and how Healthy Harvest oils stack up. 

Free Fatty Acid Content is commonly called the “percent
acidity” or “free acidity percent”. High values are a rough
indicator of poor fruit quality or improper handling prior to
milling. Free acidity arises with the hydrolytic breakdown
of the oil. Free Acidity is  measured as percent (%) free
fatty acids expressed as oleic acid, the predominant fatty
acid in olive oil.

Extra virgin grade olive oil must be below 1% acidity. Healthy Harvest Greek tested at .27% acidity. Healthy Harvest True Tuscan contains .08% acidity.

Peroxide Value is a rough indicator of the amount of
primary oxidation within the oil. A high value indicates
that the olive fruit or paste was likely handled improperly.
Olive oil with high peroxide value may not keep well.
Peroxide is measured by a quantitative chemical analysis
and is expressed as milliequivalent of free oxygen per
kilogram of oil (meq O2/kg).

HH Greek: 7.95

HH True Tuscan:9.49

Ultraviolet (UV) absorbency is an indicator of oxidation,
especially in oils that have been refined. Measured with a
spectrophotometer, the value of UV light absorbance at
different wavelengths indicates the quantity of oxidized
compounds present in the oil. Pomace and refined oils
have higher values than virgin oils.

Total Phenol is the aggregate measure of polyphenol
content in the olive oil or fruit. As polyphenols are a key
antioxidant component in olive oil, Total Phenol is an
indicator of the oil’s potential shelf life, its style and
health benefits. Total Phenol in olive fruit before harvest
can help select optimal harvest time to maximize
polyphenol content in oil. Total Phenol is normally
expressed as milligram equivalent of Gallic (or Caffeic)
acid per kilogram of oil (mg/kg).

HH Greek 140 mg/kg

HH True Tuscan: 441 mg/kg

Oleuropein and Hydroxytyrosol: these two polyphenols
are the most abundant and have also been claimed to
confer the health benefits of olive oil.

Fatty Acid Composition: this is the detailed breakdown
of the fatty acids present in the oil, which may help
distinguish olive oil from other oils.

Diacylglycerols (DAGs) measure the proportion of 1,2
diacylglycerols in the oil, that decreases with storage,
overtime. It correlates inversely  with the starting FFA
content of the oil after milling.

Pyropheophytin (PPPs) are the natural products of
chlorophyl decomposition occurring during storage, and
when oil is exposed to elevated temperatures, as in

Sensory Analysis is the evaluation of an oil’s
organoleptic attributes, which are appreciated through
the senses of smell and taste. Sensory analysis is an
essential part of evaluating olive oil quality. 

HH Greek: mild, buttery, slightly grassy

HH True Tuscan: robust, peppery


Polyphenols and Antioxidants in Olive Oil

Since we found our True Tuscan extra virgin olive oil, we knew it was special. Its robust, peppery taste delights the palate, lingering even after its left your mouth, and it’s the only extra virgin olive oil we’ve found in ten years of searching that is actually made mostly from olives native to Tuscany. After reviewing hundreds of Italian EVOOs, all but True Tuscan contain only 10% native Frantoio olives. Healthy Harvest True Tuscan is a 50/50 blend of early harvest Frantoio and Moraiolo olives. Not only is the Frantoio olive rare, but Moraiolo olives are one of the varieties especially high in phenols.

What are phenols?

Polyphenols are an important type of antioxidant in olive oil, which absorb harmful free radicals and have been clinically proven to reduce inflammation, leading to a number of health benefits from improving cardiovascular health to reducing the risk of certain types of cancer.

Which olive oils have polyphenols?

All real, pure extra virgin olive oils have polyphenols, but there is a spectrum that correlates with taste. The more phenols the oil contains, the more bitter it tastes. Olive oils perceived as mild typically have less than 180 mg/kg total phenols, while robust oils generally have more than 300 mg/kg. Lab reports show that Healthy Harvest True Tuscan contains 442 mg/kg total phenols.

So while Healthy Harvest Greek is rich in antioxidants but mild enough to use as a daily cooking oil,  True Tuscan packs a powerhouse of phenols and a strong flavor that makes an amazing finishing oil or dipping oil. A generous drizzle adds pronounced flavor and character to any dish.

For more detailed information on polyphenols in olive oil, visit agbiolab_Polyphenols.

Smaller Harvest Leads to Worldwide Price Increase

As the 2016 harvest season comes to a close this month, olive production is reportedly down worldwide. Citing factors such as adverse weather and an infestation of the olive fruit fly, nearly all of the world’s top olive oil producing countries have shown a decline in quantity, despite maintaining high quality.

“a 14-percent drop is expected in the worldwide production, with Italy showing 49% declines”

The climate has proven to be a double-edged sword with droughts harming some olive trees, while heavy rains favored conditions for the harmful olive fly in other regions. Adding to this, the disease which killed 14 million trees in Italy in 2015 has reached Spain, causing uncertainty for the coming years.

“In accordance with to the latest data provided by the International Olive Council, a 14-percent drop is expected in the worldwide production…with a drop of 6 percent in Spain, 19 percent in Greece, 14 percent in Portugal, 29 percent in Tunisia, 15 percent in Morocco, 18 percent in Argentina.” (Olive Oil Times) Italy has been hit the hardest, with a 49% reduction, resulting in an astounding 70% price increase.

By comparison, Greece remained fortunate with a 19% decline. However, this has led to a 21-25% increase in price.

What that Means for Healthy Harvest

Due to the shortage of oil and a 25% price increase from our producers, we are forced to adjust our prices for 2017. As a four-person family business, we do our best to keep our prices as low as possible so that we can make REAL extra virgin olive oil and all of its health benefits accessible to families. However, in order to stay in business and continue to be your trusted source for purity, we simply cannot absorb such a dramatic increase.

It is unlikely that national brands will raise their prices, as most olive oil sold in stores is adulterated with cheaper, refined oils such as corn, canola, and soybean oil.

The new prices will take effect Thursday, January 12. We want to extend our deepest appreciation for your patronage and loyalty and look forward to serving you for years to come.


Difficult Harvest in Italy Leads to Higher Prices

World Olive Oil Production Drops Sharply

Are there carcinogens in your beauty products?

Most our community of friends at Healthy Harvest are healthy eaters. We read nutrition labels and are cautious of what ingredients we’re putting in our bodies. We choose organic and avoid GMOs and hormones whenever possible. But how often do we pay attention to what we’re putting on our skin?

Our skin is our biggest organ and absorbs ingredients directly into our bloodstream. A recent article by The Atlantic suggested as many as 1 in 5 beauty products contain ingredients linked to cancer.

So what’s in your cosmetic bag? We put together a list of ingredients we’ll never include in our organic small-batch facial oils. Here’s why:


Also in: deodorants and antiperspirants, shampoo, conditioner, lotions, cleansers and scrubs

Parabens are a preservative that prevent bacteria in water based products. “About 85 percent of cosmetics have them,” says Arthur Rich, Ph.D., a cosmetic chemist quoted by Real So what’s wrong with them? Parabens mimic estrogen in the body, and estrogen disruption has been linked to breast cancer and reproductive problems.

Synthetic fragrances

Also found in: perfumes and colognes, baby lotions and wipes, air fresheners and candles, dryer sheets and detergents

In the U.S., manufacturers can legally hide hundreds of synthetic chemicals in the one word—“fragrance”—without revealing what those ingredients are.

Cited on Huffington Post, “Environmental Working Group (EWG) researchers found more than 75 percent of products listing the ingredient “fragrance” contained phthalates (THAL-ates) which have been shown to disrupt hormone activity, reduce sperm counts, and cause reproductive malformation, and have been linked to liver and breast cancer, diabetes, and obesity.” See more phthalates below.

Propylene glycol

Also found in: antifreeze, medicines, cosmetics, or food products

Propylene glycol is used as a skin conditioner and to enhance absorption, but Canada has listed it as toxic or harmful. While described as safe by the FDA, the CDC Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry claims it affects the skin, urinary system or kidneys, and respiratory system. It has been shown to worsen eczema and skin allergies.


Also found in: vinyl flooring, paints, shoes, disinfectants and deodorizers

According to Mother Earth Living, “phthalates are a probable carcinogen, some of which have been linked to reproductive harm, learning disabilities, asthma, and allergies – even at low exposure levels.”

Mineral oil

Also called: petrolatum or paraffinum

Also found in: lip balm, shampoos, conditioners, lotion, creams

Mineral oil is extremely common in skin care because it reduces loss of water. It is actually a byproduct from the distillation of petroleum for gasoline. Mineral oil doesn’t actually hydrate your skin; it just forms a barrier, so it can clog your pores or seal in bacteria, which can cause you to break out.

According to mineral oil also”attracts needed moisture from cells deep inside your skin. This means that cell renewal is slowed, collagen breaks down, and the connective tissue is destroyed. Normal cell development is slowed down and the skin ages prematurely when skin cells are robbed of moisture.”

We want to hear – what are your favorite safe, non-toxic beauty and self-care products?



6 Ways Oregano Oil Can Help you Stay Well During Cold &Flu Season

healthy harvest oregano oilDoctors, naturopaths, and a number of other health professionals have long touted Oregano Oil as one of nature’s most potent medicinal plants. Oregano oil also has antiseptic, antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties.

According to natural health expert Dr. Mercola, “The most therapeutically beneficial is the oil produced from wild oregano or Origanum vulgare that’s native to Mediterranean regions.”

Healthy Harvest’s Oregano Oil is made using only wild Mediterranean oregano and certified organic olive oil and is much more concentrated than options sold in stores.

Although oregano oil has numerous benefits, here are 6 reasons it is especially helpful during cold and flu season.

  1. Ward off or ease infections. Our concentrated Oregano oil is a powerful antimicrobial to fight off infections.
  2. Alleviate sinus infections and colds. Put a few drops of oregano oil in a pot of steaming water, and then inhale the steam.
  3. Get the nutrients your body needs. Nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, potassium, manganese, copper, boron, and niacin are also found in oregano oil.
  4.  Prevent or heal Respiratory infections.
  5. Eases sore throat.
  6. Disinfects the home.  Combine four drops of oregano oil with 10 drops of lemon oil and a quarter-cup of white vinegar, and then add to a bucket of water. Use this mixture to wipe and clean surfaces.

Do not use for children. Consult doctor before using if pregnant or nursing.

Mediterranean Diet reduces risk of Alzheimers

A study published in Frontiers in Nutrition in July confirmed that following the Mediterranean Diet (MedDiet) slows cognitive decline and can lower the risk for Alzheimers.

The study was a systemic review of research over the past 15 years to understand how the MedDiet affects cognitive processes over time. They define the MedDiet as “abundant consumption of plant foods, such as leafy greens, fresh fruit and vegetables, cereals, beans, seeds, nuts, and legumes. The MedDiet is also low in dairy, has minimal red meats, and uses olive oil as its major source of fat.”

When looking at the risk factors for cognitive decline, they found that the risks are linked to other illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes, suggesting that lifestyle changes and interventions could lower these risks. Additionally, the study proposes that “age is associated with increased oxidative stress and free radical damage. Inflammation and oxidative stress may therefore be critical targets for the amelioration of declining health and brain function across the life span, which can potentially be addressed through improved nutrition and increased physical activity.”

Because of extra virgin olive oil’s anti-inflammatory properties and high antioxidant content, many studies have sought to confirm the link between consumption and risk reduction.

The study listed many other risk factors in the decline of cognitive processing speed, memory loss, and other neurodegenerative diseases and ultimately found that many aspects of the MedDiet lower these risks.

“The MedDiet has been reported to be protective against diseases associated with chronic inflammation, cancer, diabetes, obesity, pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive disorders (57). A diet with the nutritional qualities of the MedDiet has been shown to reduce homocysteine levels, considered a risk factor for age-associated cognitive decline (58, 59). The MedDiet pattern is largely void of refined sugar, cholesterol, and trans fats, aspects of diet that are considered to be associated with poor cognitive outcomes in older age (60, 61); with saturated fats impacting negatively on learning and memory and the potential for increasing metabolic distress (62). ”

Lastly, the study described that changing diet not only slows degeneration into dementia and Alzheimers but actually improves the brain’s function.

So while we can’t avoid aging, we can give our body the best nutrients possible to keep it functioning at its highest potential. It’s time we take responsibility for our health! Eat well friends!



Antioxidant in Olive Oil Proven to Kill Cancer

healthy harvest olive oil kills cancer cells

By now, the diverse health benefits of olive oil are widely known, but perhaps one of the most profound discoveries is that olive oil could be useful in preventing and fighting cancer. No wonder people in the Mediterranean live so long!

A study by Rutgers University and published in Molecular and Cellular Oncology found that one of the naturally occurring antioxidants in olive oil, oleocanthal, breaks down and kills cancer cells in as little as 30 minutes without harming healthy cells.

Oleocanthal, also known as stinging oil aldehyde, is the antioxidant that gives some olive oils its peppery taste.

Most sources suggest it only takes one to two tablespoons of pure, extra virgin olive oil daily to receive its numerous benefits.

Read the original article published by Rutgers here.


Why Healthy Fats Don’t Make You Fat, Part 2

We’ve been told for years that fat is our enemy, but researchers of the ketogenic diet are proving otherwise.

After reading lots of sources, Authority Nutrition has the most thorough, yet simple explanation. Visit here for the full article or read the recap below.

What is the Ketogenic diet? It’s a low-carb, high-fat diet that over 20 studies have linked to weight loss and improved health. When mostly eliminating carbs, your body enters a state of ketosis, making you efficient at burning fat for energy. Plus, the high-fat diet keeps you full, making counting calories unnecessary.

“One study found that people on a ketogenic diet lost 2.2 times more weight than those on a calorie-restricted low-fat diet.”

This also drastically reduces blood sugar and insulin levels, a major problem currently plaguing our country. Even normal weight people are suffering from fatty liver disease and diabetes or prediabetes.

The low-carb, high-fat diet is also linked to a reduction in:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Parkinson’s disease symptoms
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Brain injuries 
  • Acne

So what should you eat to gain these benefits?

  • Meat (organic, not processed)
  • Fatty fish
  • Eggs: Look for pastured or omega-3 whole eggs.
  • Grass-fed Butter and cream
  • Unprocessed Cheese
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.
  • Healthy oils: Primarily extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil.
  • Avocados
  • Low-carb veggies: Most green veggies, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.
  • Condiments: You can use salt, pepper and various healthy herbs and spices.

Read the full article here:



Why Healthy Fats Don’t Make You Fat

If you’re like me, you might have grown up with the repeated message that a key to health is to avoid or limit all fats. Based on that reasoning, I cooked for years with as little butter and oil as possible thinking I was preventing weight gain or heart disease. When I first met the Burgart family at Healthy Harvest, it took some convincing that healthy fats don’t make you fat.

I began to re-learn as much about food and nutrition as I possibly could, researching the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and soaking up knowledge. Here’s what I found out:

Fat is a necessary nutrient. 

According to The Westin A. Price Foundation, fats are a concentrated source of energy, and they provide the foundation for cell membranes and hormones. Additionally, when included in meals, fats slow down absorption so that we can go longer without feeling hungry. Finally, they act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K,as well as with mineral absorption and other processes.

The sugar industry fought for years to fund research that demonized fat as the cause of disease to displace blame from sugar. 

The documentary Sugar Coated by Michele Hozer (available on Netflix) details the sugar industry’s PR tactics to dispel years of research point to sugar as a cause of disease and obesity. With reputable Harvard professors on their payroll, The Sugar Association funded research that instead blamed fat, making the findings of both studies inconclusive.

Avoiding fat can lead to an intake of carbs and/or sugar.

For many dishes, fat is a huge source of flavor. Once you make the food low-fat, the flavor is often replaced with sugar or artificial sweeteners. Also, healthy fats like nuts, avocados, and olive oil keep you feeling fuller longer. Many sources suggest people tend to replace fats with carbs and sweets.

Large-scale, long-term studies actually linked a high-vegetable-fat Mediterranean diet to weight loss

A recent study published in the journal Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology reports that “a long-term intervention with an unrestricted-calorie, high-vegetable-fat Mediterranean diet was associated with decreases in bodyweight and less gain in central adiposity (circumference) compared with a control diet. These results lend support to advice not restricting intake of healthy fats for bodyweight maintenance.”

Since adding a significant amount of pure, extra virgin olive oil to my diet (I take a shot in the morning and use at least 1-2 tbsp in 2-3 meals a day), I have not noticed weight gain, but instead have observed better digestion, less inflammation, and less snacking. Tell us your experience at

Stay tuned for our next article explaining the high fat Ketogenic diet and why athletes are using it to see performance gains and quicker recovery.

Phenols in EVOO May Protect Bone Mass

A recent article based on review of 37 scientific studies reports that the phenols in extra virgin olive oil may prevent loss of bone mass.

Another study that evaluated three groups of elderly men over a two-year period. Only the group with extra intake of olive oil had increased levels of serum osteocalcin and procollagen I N-terminal propeptide procollagen, both of which are associated with a protective effect on bone health.

The article references other studies that link phenols to a reduced risk of osteoporosis including oleuropein, a key phenolic component of olive oil, may prevent bone loss, and luteolin, which may prevent bone loss in postmenopausal osteoporosis by reducing the action and function of osteoclasts, which are cells that break down bone tissue.

Read the article here.