Types of Olive Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oils are sometimes treated like fine wines, and, as with wines, some people will argue that no two olive groves will produce extra virgin olive oils that taste alike. The seasoned palate is able to detect distinctions in taste and aroma, and these subtleties are extensively discussed and intensely debated.
To be certified for the “extra virgin” label, an olive oil should satisfy four criteria: it must be produced by mechanical extraction methods (no chemicals or hot water applied), come only from first cold-pressing, have an oleic acidity level of less than one percent, and must have a perfect taste.
Acidity level is the most important factor that determines its grade. This is a measure of the percentage of free fatty acid content: the best oil has the lowest acidity. The oil should also be free from perceptible defects in taste or smell. Extra virgin olive oil is valued for its perfect balance in terms of flavour, aroma, colour, and acidity level.
One reason extra virgin olive oil is prized so highly is its high content of vitamins and nutrients. Also, it is pure and without any additives. The fruitiness of its taste and the complexity of its aroma give it universal appeal. The light, delicate consistency of extra virgin olive oil makes it perfect for dressings. It is also the preferred oil for use in cooking by more discerning users.
Extra virgin olive oil comes in four sub-types:
Extra virgin olive oil (regular)
Organic extra virgin olive oil
Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)
Protected Geographical Indication (PGI)
Different extra virgin olive oils may share the same characteristics but there is marked variation in taste. There are many nuances, and connoisseurs categorise its flavours as mild (delicate, light, or buttery), semi-fruity (stronger, with more taste of olive), and fruity (oil with a strong olive flavour).
If you wish to become familiar with the different olive oil flavours, you should try to taste as many of them as possible; one cost-effective way to do that is to split several large bottles of different extra virgin olive oils with your friends.
Virgin Olive Oil
Virgin olive oil also comes from the first pressing, and is also produced without refining. In a technical sense, virgin olive oil may have an acidity level of up to 3.3%, however, industry practice in the producing countries is to maintain under 2% acidity. Its flavour intensity can vary and its taste is less mild than extra virgin olive oil.
Pure Olive Oil
This is now simply called olive oil and is a blend of virgin olive oil and refined olive oil. Its label will bear the designation “pure” or “100% pure”. However, refined olive oil has very little vitamin E content. This is why producers need to add unrefined virgin olive oil to impart some of flavour, colour and aroma into the blend. The proportions of the two components may vary from one producer to another, depending on the flavour the producer desires to create.
Pure olive oil actually has the same acidity level as virgin olive oil, and for that reason it has good resistance to high temperatures. Its lower nutrient content than virgin olive oil makes it less expensive. It cannot be used for dressings and is better suited for heavy-duty, high-heat cooking.
Olive Pomace Oil
Pomace oil is the lowest grade of olive-based oils. Pomace is that part of the olive that remains after all the oil and water in it has been removed by pressuring or centrifuging processes. With the use of certain solvents, there is still some residual oil that can be extracted from the olive pomace. This oil may then be refined, which results in a product bereft of any specific taste or colour; it also contains none of the vitamins of olive oil.
To make pomace oil acceptable to consumers, the producer blends it with virgin olive oil. As with pure olive oil, the producer may vary the proportions between the pomace oil and virgin olive oil; however, the virgin olive oil content is generally quite low. The blended product is called olive pomace oil. Like pure olive oil, it is suitable for use only in high-heat cooking.
*In general, olive oil is a good source of vitamin E and is rich in monounsaturated fats. However, extra virgin olive oil has the highest content levels of these healthful nutrients and has the most exquisite flavours. It should come as no wonder that extra virgin olive oil is known as the king of oils.
OLIVE OIL HEALTH BENEFITS
Olive oil is the cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet, an essential nutritional mainstay for the world’s longest-living cultures.
Scientific studies have shown that monounsaturated fats and phenols found in olive oil help the body neutralize free radicals, thereby reducing the possibility of the occurrence of various types of cancer. The phytonutrient in olive oil, oleocanthal, mimics the effect of ibuprofen in reducing inflammation, which can decrease the risk of breast cancer and its recurrence. Squalene and lignans are among the other olive oil components being studied for their possible effects on cancer. A new study has proven that an ingredient in extra virgin olive oil can kill cancer cells. The researchers discovered that oleocanthal caused cancer cells to break down and die very quickly; within 30 minutes, instead of the 16 to 24 hours it takes for programmed cell death, known as apoptosis. Source: Olive Oil Times
Olive oil lowers the levels of total blood cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides. At the same time it does not alter the levels of HDL-cholesterol (and may even raise them), which plays a protective role and prevents the formation of fatty patches, thus stimulating the elimination of the low-density lipoproteins. Olive oil helps the heart function properly. According to international surveys that have been carried out, two tablespoons of olive oil a day significantly reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil Can Reduce Oxidative Stress
Olive oil is rich in antioxidants, especially vitamin E, long thought to minimize cancer risk. Among plant oils, olive oil is the highest in monounsaturated fat, which doesn’t oxidize in the body, and it’s low in polyunsaturated fat, the kind that does oxidize. A new study has revealed that extra-virgin olive oil can protect the liver from oxidative stress. However, extra virgin olive oil and hydrophilic fraction intake induced a significant increase in antioxidant enzyme activity and a decrease in markers of liver damage.
Lower Blood Pressure
Two tablespoons of phenol-rich EVOO can be effective in lowering blood pressure, according to a University of California at Davis Olive Center review. The study indicate that regular consumption of olive oil can help decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Other studies found that Olive Oil with a high phenolic content was more effective in lowering either systolic or diastolic blood pressure in comparison to sunflower oil, soybean oil, or refined olive oil with low phenol content.
Protect from Diabetes
It has been demonstrated that a diet that is rich in olive oil, low in saturated fats, moderately rich in carbohydrates and soluble fiber from fruit, vegetables, pulses and grains is the most effective approach for diabetics. It helps lower “bad” low-density lipoproteins while improving blood sugar control and enhances insulin sensitivity. Traditionally a low fat diet has been prescribed to prevent various diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. While studies have shown that high fat diets may increase the risk of certain diseases such as cancer and diabetes, it appears that it is the type of fat that counts rather than the amount of fat. We now know that a diet rich in monounsaturated fats such as the ones found in olive oil, nuts and seeds actually protects from many of these chronic diseases.
Protect Against Obesity
A recent study in eight European countries has shown that children who consume a Mediterranean diet were less likely to be overweight. Although high in calories, olive oil has shown to help reduce levels of obesity. The results of the study conducted by Dr. Gianluca Tognon from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden were first presented at the European Congress on Obesity.
Although the reasons are still not fully clear, recent studies have proved that people with diets containing high levels of olive oil are less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis. A recent published study suggests that regular consumption of olive oil may reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. According to the authors of the study, the people on diets containing high levels of olive oil had less risk of suffering this disease. The study found that the people who consumed less olive oil had 2.5 times more possibility of developing rheumatoid arthritis than those who consumed it more frequently. Although the mechanism involved is not yet clear, antioxidants are suspected to exert a beneficial effect.
Protect Against Osteoporosis
Here’s yet another reason to add olive oil to your diet. 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. A high consumption of olive oil appears to improve bone mineralization and calcification. It helps calcium absorption and so plays an important role in aiding sufferers and in preventing the onset of Osteoporosis.
Source: Olive Oil Times