difference between extra virgin olive oil and regular olive oil

 The supermarket offers an array of options, from extra-virgin to pure, and even light olive oil. Is there really a difference? And if so, what is it?

Olive oil is the oil that's obtained from the fruit of olive trees but there are different varieties of olive oil that are set apart not by the type of olive that's used, but the process used to extract the oil, as well as by the additives, and the oil's level of free oleic acid.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is the highest-quality olive oil and is extracted from olives through a process called cold pressing, which means the oil is removed using only pressure and was not heated over a certain temperature. This is the best way to keep all of the good-for-you antioxidants and monounsaturated fats in the oil. In contrast to unrefined extra-virgin olive oil, refined oils "lack the important antioxidants and anti-inflammatory that make extra-virgin oil so special." Extra-virgin olive oil is considered an unrefined oil since it's not treated with chemicals or altered by temperature. What sets it apart is the low level of oleic acid and the absence of sensory flaws. It contains no more than 1% oleic acid and typically has a golden-green color, with a distinct flavor and a light peppery finish.

 Virgin olive oil is made using a similar process as extra-virgin olive oil and is also an unrefined oil, meaning chemicals or heat are not used to extract oil from the fruit. Virgin olive oil also maintains the purity and taste of the olive, though production standards are not as rigid.

 Labeled as simply olive oil or pure olive oil — this is what we'd consider "regular" olive oil. This oil is typically a blend of virgin olive oil and refined olive oil (heat and/or chemicals are used in the process of extracting oil and removing flaws from the fruit). Pure olive oil is a lower-quality oil than extra-virgin or virgin olive oil, with a lighter color, more neutral flavor, and oleic acid measuring between 3-4%.

Culled from http://www.thekitchn.com

 Image credits: Kelli Foster

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