WALDWICK, N.J. — Paul Karoyan of Waldwick started his love affair with olive oil seven years ago when he got the results of his cholesterol test.
It was 220.
“The doctor told me I was borderline,” recalled Karoyan, now 43. “He said if I went a little higher, I’d need to be on statin drugs.
“I was worried.”
Back then Karoyan, who now owns Olive Branch and Grape Vine in Westwood , was researching natural ways to reduce cholesterol.
That’s when he remembered his grandmother’s advice to his father, who also had high cholesterol: “Take two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil every day. You’ll be fine.”
So Karoyan took to having a shot glass of olive oil daily.
It was the only thing he changed.
At his next checkup, his cholesterol was 180. His HDL, the good cholesterol, rose from 47 to 68.
He continues his daily routine. His numbers still haven’t changed.
“Extra virgin olive is high in monounsaturated fat, which is good for you,” he said.
Here’s the thing, though: Karoyan, who was a banking executive for 20 years, did not drink the olive oil found in supermarkets.
Originally from Lebanon, the Ridgefield native often traveled to Mediterranean countries.
While there, he visited 10- to 50-acre farms that produce their own premium extra virgin oil from one or two kinds of olive trees they grow.
They press it cold and correctly, Karoyan said. And that makes all the difference.
Each farm also specializes in five or six different flavors. Examples: Roasted Chili Infused, Habanero, Porcini Infused, Cilantro Lime.
“The olive oils you see in the supermarket are made with a variety of olives crushed together,” Karoyan explained.
What does that mean? That they’re not 100 percent extra virgin, he added.
Then there’s the matter of storage.
True extra virgin oil has a shelf of 18 months, according to Karoyan. After that, its acidity level is too high to qualify as extra virgin.
Karoyan knows his way around oils. He is an oleologist certified through the International Olive Oil Council.
His Westwood store features more than 300 health-enhancing products, including flavored olive oils, avocado oils, coconut oils, and raw honey in dozens of flavors.
All the honey is harvested from hives he keeps in Somerset County.
The public can catch Karoyan at the Holiday Boutique in Franklin Lakes Tuesday , Mom-Pruh-Nur in Westwood Saturday , and the Holiday Craft Show at Wayne Valley High School Sunday .