Because of the increasing popularity of the Mediterranean diet, health-conscious people have been using olive oil as their kitchen staple. The continuous increase in demands for olive oil has paved the way for the introduction of several oil grades at different prices and for different kinds of cooking. But, not all olive oils you can get on the supermarket shelves are a good buy. Just like when you buy organic tomato puree, want an olive oil that is fresh and flavorful. Here are some of the potential kinds of olive oils you may find and how to pick the healthiest ones.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
This kind of olive oil has the most benefits that consumers can get. This healthy option retains the antioxidant polyphenols which offer the oil its anti-inflammatory properties. These polyphenols are eliminated during chemical or heat processes and several pressing but extra virgin olive oils do not go through these processes and are derived from olives’ first pressing.
Olive oils can be a certified extra virgin when they pass some stringent tests on polyphenol content, flavor, and acidity. They should have more than 220mg/kg of polyphenols, less than 0.8% acidity. They should have the peppery flavor of olives. The pungent and bitter the oil is the better. It is bitter because of the presence of oleuropein and pungent because of oleocanthal.
Virgin Olive Oil
This olive oil is also unrefined. As with extra virgin oil, it is derived from first pressing, without being exposed to chemicals and heat. Although it has a similar antioxidant profile with their extra virgin counterparts, its flavor intensity is a slightly lower. The only difference in these kinds of olive oils is their acidity.
Refined Olive Oil
This kind of olive oil is manufactured by refining naturally extracted extra virgin olive oil. In terms of cooking oils, this kind of oil doesn’t mean better. Although its fat structure is not impacted, it lacks the antioxidant benefits of the virgin oils. Refined olive oil does not have an olive oil flavor; however, has a long shelf life since it does not contain polyphenols.
Classic or Pure Olive Oil
This olive oil is a blend of refined and virgin olive oils. Its purity label has to do with the fact that it is not mixed with other kinds of oils. Its antioxidant levels, aroma, and flavor depend on the amount of virgin oil added. This type of olive oil is usually used for deep-frying and searing meats. Also, it can be used for controlling dandruff and moisturizing the skin.