What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
Extra virgin is the highest quality and most expensive olive oil classification. It should have no defects and a flavor of fresh olives.
In chemical terms extra virgin olive oil is described as having a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.8 grams per 100 grams and a peroxide value of less than 20 milliequivalent O2. It must be produced entirely by mechanical means without the use of any solvents, and under temperatures that will not degrade the oil (less than 86°F, 30°C).
In order for an oil to qualify as “extra virgin” the oil must also pass both an official chemical test in a laboratory and a sensory evaluation by a trained tasting panel recognized by the International Olive Council. The olive oil must be found to be free from defects while exhibiting some fruitiness.
Since extra virgin olive oil is simply pressed fruit juice without additives, the factors influencing its quality and taste include the varieties of olives used, the terroir and the countless decisions, production practices and the dedication of the producer.
Olive oil tasters describe the positive attributes using the following terms:
Fruity: Having pleasant spicy fruit flavors characteristic of fresh ripe or green olives. Ripe fruit yields oils that are milder, aromatic, buttery, and floral. Green fruit yields oils that are grassy, herbaceous, bitter, and pungent. Fruitiness also varies by the variety of olive.
Bitter: Creating a mostly pleasant acrid flavor sensation on the tongue.
Pungent: Creating a peppery sensation in the mouth and throat
Other Grades of Olive Oil
In countries that adhere to the olive oil standards of the International Olive Council (IOC), the following grades are used:
Virgin olive oil has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 2 grams per 100 grams and the other technical characteristics for the virgin olive oil category in the IOC standard.
Ordinary virgin olive oil: virgin olive oil which has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 3.3 grams per 100 grams and the other characteristics of which correspond to those fixed for this category in the standard.
Virgin olive oil not fit for consumption as it is, designated lampante virgin olive oil, is virgin olive oil which has acidity of more than 3.3 grams per 100 grams and/or the organoleptic characteristics and other characteristics for this category in the standard. It is intended for refining or for technical use.
Refined olive oil is the olive oil obtained from virgin olive oils by refining methods which do not lead to alterations in the initial glyceridic structure. It has a free acidity of not more than 0.3 grams per 100 grams.
Olive oil is the oil consisting of a blend of refined olive oil and virgin olive oils fit for consumption as they are. It has a free acidity of not more than 1 gram per 100 grams and its other technical characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in the standard.
Olive-pomace oil is the oil comprising the blend of refined olive-pomace oil and virgin olive oils fit for consumption as they are. It has a free acidity of not more than 1 gram per 100 grams.
Crude olive-pomace oil is olive-pomace oil whose characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard. It is intended for refining for use for human consumption, or it is intended for technical use.
Refined olive-pomace oil is the oil obtained from crude olive-pomace oil by refining methods which do not lead to alterations in the initial glyceridic structure. It has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.3 grams per 100 grams and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in the IOC standard.
Olive-pomace oils can never be labelled “olive oil.”
Olive oil, extra virgin Olive oil, extra virgin Anyone coming from the Mediterranean region of the world would tell you about the health benefits, as well as the wonderful flavor, of a good dose of olive oil on salads, pasta, fish and almost anything else. Fortunately, it is available throughout the year to satisfy taste buds and promote good health.
What’s New and Beneficial about Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The quality of olive oil production—especially the stage of pressing—really does make a difference when it comes to health benefits. Recent studies have compared the anti-inflammatory benefits of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) obtained from the first pressing of the oil to the anti-inflammatory benefits of virgin olive oils (non-EVOO) obtained from later pressings. What researchers found was an ability of EVOO to lower inflammatory markers in the blood when non-EVOOs were unable to do so. (Study measurements included blood levels of thromboxane A2, or TXA2, and leukotriene B2, or LBT2.) This ability of extra virgin olive oil to help protect against unwanted inflammation is not surprising, since EVOO is known to contain stronger concentrations of phytonutrients (especially polyphenols) that have well-known anti-inflammatory properties.
Mediterranean Diet studies have long associated olive oil intake with decreased risk of heart disease. However, a recent group of studies has provided us with a fascinating explanation of olive oil’s cardioprotective effect. One of the key polyphenols in olive oil—hydroxytyrosol (HT)—helps protect the cells that line our blood vessels from being damaged by overly reactive oxygen molecules. HT helps protect the blood vessel cells by triggering changes at a genetic level. The genetic changes triggered by HT help the blood vessel cells to enhance their antioxidant defense system. In other words, olive oil supports our blood vessels not only by providing antioxidants like like vitamin E and beta-carotene. Olive oil also provides our blood vessels with unique molecules like HT that actually work at a genetic level to help the cellular walls of the blood vessels remain strong.
Olive oil has long been recognized for its unusual fat content. This plant oil is one of the few widely used culinary oils that contains about 75% of its fat in the form of oleic acid (a monounsaturated, omega-9 fatty acid). In terms of monounsaturated fat, the closest common culinary oil to olive is canola oil, with about 60% of its fat coming in monounsaturated form.
By contrast, the fat in soybean oil in only 50-55% monounsaturated; in corn oil, it’s about 60%; in sunflower oil, about 20%; and in safflower oil, only 15%. When diets low in monounsaturated fat are altered to increase the monounsaturated fat content (by replacing other oils with olive oil), research study participants tend to experience a significant decrease in their total blood cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and LDL:HDL ratio.
Recent research studies have taken these heart-healthy effects of olive oil one step further. Olive oil’s monounsaturated fat content (specifically, its high level of oleic acid) has now been determined to be a mechanism linking olive oil intake to decreased blood pressure. Researchers believe that the plentiful amount of oleic acid in olive oil gets absorbed into the body, finds its way into cell membranes, changes signaling patterns at a cell membrane level (specifically, altering G-protein associated cascades) and thereby lowers blood pressure. To our knowledge, this is the first time that the monounsaturated fat content of olive oil has been linked not only to cholesterol reduction, but also to reduction of blood pressure.
Cancer prevention has been one of the most active areas of olive oil research, and the jury is no longer out on the health benefits of olive oil with respect to cancer. Twenty-five studies on olive oil intake and cancer risk—including most of the large-scale human studies conducted up through the year 2010—have recently been analyzed by a team of researchers at the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research Institute in Milan, Italy.
Firmly established by this research team were the risk-reducing effects of olive oil intake with respect to cancers of the breast, respiratory tract, upper digestive tract and, to a lesser extent, lower digestive tract (colorectal cancers). These anti-cancer benefits of olive oil became most evident when the diets of routine olive oil users were compared with the diets of individuals who seldom used olive oil and instead consumed diets high in saturated added fat, especially butter.Extra Virgin Olive Oil definition,