By: Nikki Nies
Olive oil is a staple product in many cook’s kitchen and is an integral part of the Mediterranean diet. Can you imagine cooking without it? Like many products, one can’t peruse the grocery stores without being bombarded with different types and kinds of products.
Sometimes, I wonder. Are the fancy words on labels there to trip the customers up? So the prices can be hiked up for words that mean nothing too spectacular? Have no fear, I’m here to break down the common uses of olive oil and the differences among different types.
Olive derives from olive trees, with the particular variety of the olive used in processing producing the specific flavor in different types of oils.
|Characteristics||Olive Oil||Virgin Olive Oil||Extra virgin olive oil (EVVO)||Refined Olive Oil||Ordinary Olive Oil||Olive Pomace Oil||Refined Olive Pomace Oil|
|t||Blend of virgin and refined olive oil||Comes from first pressing, without refining||Obtained from original fruit and not synthetically treated, or refined “cold pressed.”||Obtained by treating olive pomace with solvents and is blended with virgin olive oil||By refining crude olive pomace oil|
|Expressed as oleic acid||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Free acidity||Yes||Yes||No more than 0.8%||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Grams per 100 grams||No more than 1/100 g||No more than 2/100 g||No more than 3.3/100 g||No more than 1/100 g||0.3 g per 100 g|
|Use||Can be used in high temperatures. Can not be used for dressings.||Salads, soups, stews, dips||Often used when frying||Only for high heat cooking|
|Taste||Commons lacks strong flavor||Less mild than EVVO||Considered to have superior taste||More neutral flavor than virgin olive oil|
|Specific characteristics||Will be labeled as “pure” or 100% pure. Contains very little vitamin E.||Lowest grade of olive oil, same fat consumption as regular olive oil|
So, now that you know the chemical make up difference of the various olive oils, let’s look at the actual label that is promoting the bottles of olive oil.
|Made from refined olive oils||
|Cold pressed or cold extraction||
|First cold pressed||
|PDO and PGI||
|Oil was bottled and packed In a specific country||
Overall, EVVO is considered the gold standard of olive oil. Rachael Ray has made it popular on her show and its use has been praised by many health professionals.
Benefits of using olive oil:
- Improves immune system
- Aids in digestion and absorption of nutrients—i.e. fat soluable vitamins
- Naturally sodium and carbohydrate free
- High smoke point, at 410°F, which means it can be used for frying
- Foods are less greasy when olive oil is used, as it coats, doesn’t penetrate food
- Helps protect against viruses and diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and/or diabetes
- Has been shown to lower blood pressure
- Helps reduce levels of obesity
- Can be used as a finish or condiment
- Contains antioxidants, called polyphenols that help protect against cell damage and inflammation
- Versatile—can be used on vegetables, rice, potatoes, beans, poultry, fish, meats
- Has high monounsaturated fat content
- Has relatively low saturated fat content
Stay tuned, I’ll be following up on the Mediterranean diet shortly.