Olive Oil is a type of oil that has been extracted from olives; the fruits of the olive tree. It is one of the healthiest culinary oils. It has a high content of monounsaturated fats that lower bad LDL cholesterol and omega-9 fatty acids.
There are four main grades of olive oil:
- Refined olive oil
- Regular olive oil
- Virgin olive oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
Refined Olive Oil:
Sometimes called “light”, refined olive oil is the most processed of the oils after harvesting. It lacks the antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that extra virgin olive oil contains. It has a neutral flavour with little or none of the classic olive aroma, flavour, bitterness or colour. The “light” description has everything to do with the colour of the oil and not it being “lighter in calorie or fats”.
Also known as “pure” olive oil, this olive oil is often a blend of refined and extra virgin olive oils. Regular olive oil is not as high in quality as EVOO or virgin olive oil. It also tends to be lighter in colour and contains a fairly neutral flavour. When cooking with light and pure olive oils, they have longer shelf lives and can be heated at a higher temperature before smoking. However they also have less antioxidants and nutrients than Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Virgin Olive Oil:
Similar to extra virgin olive oil, the process to make virgin olive oil does not use chemicals or heat to extract the oil from the olive does not use chemicals or heat to extract the oil from the olive. Instead the oil is extracted by grinding and pressing olives. This is the 2nd priciest type of olive oil you can buy. Virgin olive oil contains the purity and taste of the olive, however it is not as high quality as EVOO.
Extra-virgin olive oil is made from the highest quality, pure, cold-pressed olives. Cold-pressed means the olives have been ground into a paste, then pressed to extract the oil with no heat or chemicals involved. The colour of EVOO is a forest-green with a grassy, fresh, peppery flavour and a fruity smell. EVOO is the priciest of the olive oils, their shelf life is shorter and the best packaged ones are done in a dark glass or metal container (not plastic) to preserve the freshness.