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What's the Deal With: Virgin and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

What's the Deal With: Virgin and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

As we all learned from the Butter or Margarine Quiz, olive oil is a much healthier alternative. Butter is bad for your heart since it is high in saturated fats, and most margarines are made from hydrogenated oil so they contain trans fats which raises your cholesterol.

OK back to olive oil — what's the difference between virgin and extra virgin? Is one healthier than the other? What about refined olive oil? Does refined mean better? Is one better suited for cooking?

Extra-virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing of the olives. It contains no more than 8% acidity (oleic acid), and is said to have a superior taste. Extra-virgin olive oil has higher levels of Vitamin E, Vitamin A, chlorophyll and magnesium. Contrary to popular belief, heating it will not cause it to lose its health benefits, it will only lose flavor.

Want to know about virgin olive oil and which one is best to cook with? Then

Virgin olive oil is made with olives that are slighly riper than those used to make the extra-virgin kind. It has an acidity of less than 2%, and while it has a good flavor, extra-virgin's flavor is considered superior.

When you see the term refined on the label, it means that the oil has been chemically treated to neutralize the strong acid taste. Refined olive oil is lower in quality than virgin olive oil, which is why it is less expensive. There is no refined oil in either virgin or extra-virgin olive oil. If a label simply says "olive oil" then it is a blend of virgin and refined, containing at most 1% acidity. It commonly lacks flavor.

When using olive oil in foods, save the more expensive extra-virgin oils for salads, for drizzling over fresh breads, or for brushing over cooked vegetables since it loses its flavor when heated. When cooking, use the cheaper olive oil - you can always add some extra-virgin olive oil right before serving to add flavor back.

Fit's Tips: Don't be fooled by the words "100% Olive Oil" on a label. This is often low quality olive oil. For best quality, choose bottles that say "extra-virgin."

Join The Conversation
jeaton7865 jeaton7865 6 years
I love Extra Virgin Olive Oil ( that was a pain to type out, but I will not be likened to Racheal Ray, her voice is so gross, sounds like someone's 70 year old chain-smoking Aunt!) Anyway, my favorite thing in the world is some good bread, with fresh tomato, buffalo mozz, maybe some basil, sea salt, cracked pepper, and a healthy drizzle of oil! Nothing better!
vetralla vetralla 6 years
AH-Ya I noticed that too, but then I also realized we're bumping on an old article. But for correction it's 0.8%, not a whole number (8). And for saying evoo, is it that bad? I usually use it...though only when I need to type so to skip the extra letters! Also, using evoo for (deep)frying is not a bad deal, it's just useless. Why use superior blend for a tedious task? Although some evoo are really worth the usage for all varieties (the more expensive imports), it's just a matter of whether you're willing to spill 1/4 a liter to fry. AND you could also use it for frying, rather it's your best choice!
chancleta chancleta 10 years
Wahoo! Good tips. And I love using: EVOO.
lms lms 10 years
I always buy the extra virgin olive oil.
LizaToad LizaToad 10 years
this is interesting, thanks for posting... i LOVE virgin olive oil... i love how it smells and tastes... :drool:
Beaner Beaner 10 years
I had no idea! I thought olive oil was all the same. Huh.
suzanne suzanne 10 years
Now that was useful info!!!! :woohoo: I'm going to print it out and tape to my fridge till I memorize it forever... no, really - I am!
honeysugar28 honeysugar28 10 years
I read a critic once that said he wanted to choke Rachel Ray with some EVOO! LOL!
UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 10 years
I still like butter....but I know olive oil is healthier and just as tasty on bread. Good to know the distinction between virgin and extra virgin!
vrico2005 vrico2005 10 years
I use Enola brand olive oil. It is suppossed to be even better. Anyone else use it or know more about it?
mandiesoh mandiesoh 10 years
OOO coolness. clears everything right up. thanks Fit! :)
kendallina kendallina 10 years
I want to add olive oil (virgin or non) to my diet now.
kscincotta kscincotta 10 years
Sometimes after I read enlightening posts like this, I hear the little "The More You Know" music play in my head.
SeptemberLights SeptemberLights 10 years
i love olive oil but im dieting so now i use the mazolla pure spray olive oil to save calories.
JessNess JessNess 10 years
hahahahaha redsox! I hate when she says that too!
redsox26 redsox26 10 years
Oh god! YaoMing did you just say EVOO?!?! ahhh that drives me NUTS when Rachel Ray does that! "And add some EVOO, Extra virgin Olive Oil" whats the point of saying EVOO when she has to explain what it is every single time? Anyways, thanks for the info fit sugar!
YaoMing YaoMing 10 years
How'd you get that EVOO to float like that?
JessNess JessNess 10 years
Oh yeah another thing- if you are going to fry foods do not use olive oil. Use a clear oil like Vegetable oil it holds the temperature much better
grl-in-the-world grl-in-the-world 10 years
Great tips!
JessNess JessNess 10 years
I always use Extra Virgin. I really like the taste. But that is definitely a good tip, I have always been taught that if you are going to put olive oil on things like salad or pastas (in other words not cooking with it) then always use the best tasting oil. I love when I cook up carne asada in my skillet because I cook it with a little oil and it gives the meat a nice fruity tang that I LOVE
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