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Of all the varieties of edible oils, olive oil stands out with its superior health benefits and taste superiority. Olives are a fruit, so olive oil can be considered as the juice of the olive. Unlike most other vegetable oils it can be obtained by purely physical means by simply pressing the olive or spinning in a centrifuge. Due to the lack of processing the quality of the olive oil is highly dependent on the original fruit. Ideally olives should be used almost immediately after being picked and if the picking is done by hand it can minimize damage to the fruit. The olives should be picked at peak ripeness to produce an oil of high quality and taste.


Health Benefits of Olive Oil

Olive oil has a high content of monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats have been linked to the reduction of heart disease. Olive oil also contains high levels of the vitamins E and K, and antioxidants as well as flavenoids. The antioxidants contained in olive oil are numerous. They include the flavenoid polyphenol which have a host of health benefits including anti-aging, lowering 'bad' LDL cholesterol, reducing blood presure and the risk of heart disease. There is also evidence that olive oil's unique composition can also aid in cancer inhibition, protecting skin from damage and also inhibit the growth of bacteria. These studies also find that extra virgin olive oil contains more antioxidants than other lesser grades. This is due to the unrefined and undegraded nature of the extra virgin grade.

It is still unclear which particular component of olive oil is responsible for the health benefits nor how the body is affected in all cases however, it is clear that olive oil as a whole exhibits remarkable benefits.

The antioxidants contained in extra virgin olive oil are also beneficial to the skin. They exhibit anti-aging properties and can help relieve damage caused by over exposure to the sun. It can be used on the skin for general use on dry areas.

Olive oil is a major component and factor in the so called "Mediterranean diet" which is associated which a remarkable range of health benefits. The mediterranean diet is characterized by smaller, tasteful portions and slower and more enjoyable eating. Besides olive oil, there is a focus on whole foods, vegetables, fruit and fish as well as the occasional glass or two of wine with a meal.

Increased olive oil consumption can also be indirectly beneficial to a weight loss regime. Olive oil contains just as many calories as other oils - it is 100% fat, however its fat content is good monounsaturated fat rather than saturated fat. By using olive oil, with its superior taste, it can encourage more consumption of healthy foods such as vegetables and other whole foods such as pasta. Because of the superior taste olive oil can be used to replace other calorie heavy options such as sauces and creams which do not contain the additional health benefits of a quality Olive oil.




The trade and marketing of olive oil is regulated by the International Olive Oil Council (IOOC).

There are a number of different grades of olive oil defined by the IOOC, they differ in the way the oil is produced and the chemical composition. Different grades of olive oil will also have different uses, taste and properties and their cost can vary widely.


Virgin Olive Oil refers to the oils obtained by solely mechanical or physical means under conditions, particularly heat conditions, that do not lead to alterations in the oil. Virgin Olive Oil is only allowed to be treated by washing, decanting, centrifuging and filtering. Virgin Olive Oil may also be labelled as "cold pressed"

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is virgin olive oil which has an acidity of 0.8% or less. It also has a superior taste.

Virgin Olive Oil is virgin olive oil which has an acidity of 2.0% or less.

Ordinary Virgin Olive Oil is virgin olive oil which has an acidity of 3.3% or less.

Lampante Virgin Olive Oil has an acidity of more than 3.3% and is not fit for consumption. It is used for industrial use or as lamp (lampante) fuel.


Refined Olive Oil is the olive oil obtained by refining methods. It is often blended with a grade of virgin olive oil and is sold as Olive Oil or Pure Olive Oil. Its acidity is also regulated by the IOOC. Refined olive oil is sometimes called "pure".


The grades and names mentioned here do not apply to US producers or the US market which is not a member of the IOOC. For this reason extra care should be taken when purchasing US Olive oils. The California Olive Oil Council (COOC) also regulates in the Olive Oil market and uses the same guidelines as the IOOC.

Olive oil may also be found under descriptions such as "cold pressed" or "first press" or "light". These descriptions are unregulated and should be read with consideration to this. Because types of olive oil are generally more expensive than other types of vegetable oil care should be taken to ensure the product is legitimate and not a mis-representation. Often what claims to Extra Virgin Olive Oil or some other grade is actually a cheaper substitute which may have been blended or refined, but there can be no substitute for the genuine product.

The quality of an olive oil is often measured chemically. This is because the acidity of olive oil is important as it is a measure of the oil's chemical degradation. As the oil degrades it becomes more acidic and rancid.


Cooking With Olive Oil

All grades of olive oil that are fit for consumption are suitable for cooking. There is an opinion that extra virgin olive oil should not be used for cooking. This is incorrect unless cost is the underlying reason. Extra virgin olive oil is usually significantly more expensive than other grades. It is also very tasteful and has a strong aroma so it can be considered wasteful to use it for cooking.

Olive oil has a high smoke point and doesn't degrade as quickly as other vegetable oils. It also does not lose any of its superior health benefits during cooking. Taste will be affected during cooking so it is best to use a low flavored oil.


Organic Olive Oil

Organic olive oil has all the benefits of non-organic oils with the added benefits of the oil being produced to the additional standards of organic foods. The olive tree is naturally a hardy tree which requires little additional fertilizer to promote growth, but the trees are still vulnerable to pest damage. By choosing a certified organic oil the oil is guaranteed to be untreated by potentially harmful chemicals which may affect the olives and also introduce harmful compounds into the Olive Oil.


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