I've had a passion for olive oil for a very long time. No, not Popeye's girlfriend, but the nectar obtained by squeezing together olives.

My favorite is the greenish "first cold pressed," which simply refers to the process the producer extracts the olive oil from the fruit. First cold pressed means the olives were crushed and pressed only one time, and mixed with water never more than 80 degrees. Olive oil extracted from the first cold pressing is of the highest quality and purity, thus the branding extra-virgin.

I'm sharing this with you because from time to time when I swallow this kind of olive oil, I get a burning sensation in my throat, sometimes accompanied by coughing and a prickly sensation in the back of my gullet. I figured it was from the damage I caused by years of smoking, but I figured wrong again. It's caused by oleocanthal.

Scientist Gary Beauchamp discovered oleocanthal only in 1993 and was finally able to define it in 2005 as a very beneficial anti-inflammatory that's healthy for our brain, but it still burns once in a while, so don't fret. And if you want to soothe the burning, just mix a half teaspoon of salt with warm water and gargle.

Let me leave you with a couple of olive oil tips: the extra-virgin oil is good for dressings and to finish dishes, whereas regular olive oil is what you want to cook with. And when it comes to cooking, I've seen internet rumors swirl about the low smoke point of olive oil and the claims that reaching the smoke point is potentially toxic to your health. It isn't true, according to the American Council on Science and Health, which promotes science and debunk junk.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at phil@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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