What’s The Best Olive Oil?

Go to the supermarket for olive oil nowadays and you'll most likely find there's a confusing array of choices, and prices. So, what's the best type of olive oil to buy? It depends, to a degree, on what you're going to use it for.

You may have heard that olive oil is good for your health, that it lowers your ‘bad' cholesterol levels and cuts your risk of heart disease. The benefits of olive oil go way beyond heart health. But did you know that not all types of olive oil are good for you? Do you want to know the difference between the different types of olive oil and, find out which types to avoid?

Green olives produce the olive oil that has been making headlines as a healthy addition to cooking. Depending on the type of olive oil you bring home, you will encounter a wide-range of flavors, colors, and consistencies. This is because the climate, location, and specific varieties of olives play an important role in the characteristics of the oil.

If you have ever wondered what the difference between extra-virgin and just plain ‘ol virgin was in the world of olive oils, consider the following information that will help you know the difference next time you go shopping:

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

In order to gain the distinction of extra-virgin olive oil, the oil should possess less than 1% acidity and have been produced by an initial press of the olive fruit that has gone through what is known as the cold pressing process. While there are a lot of olive oils that claim an extra-virgin status, the majority actually meets the very minimum requirement. Extra virgin denotes a chemical requirement that should not be used as an accurate measure of quality and taste.

Virgin Olive Oil

Virgin olive oil is made from olives that are slightly riper than the ones generated for extra-virgin oil. While virgin olive oil is made in the same manner, it is considered a lower quality of virgin oil. The acidity associated with virgin olive oil is slightly higher than the 1% level of extra-virgin olive oil.

Refined Olive Oil

This type of oil is nearly tasteless and has been refined. The acidity level is more than 3.3%, which contributes to an unpleasant flavor and not so attractive scent.

Pure Olive Oil

Pure olive oil is often referred to as olive oil and usually is made through a second cold pressing process or undergoes chemical extraction of olives left behind after the first pressing. Pure olive oil (also known as commercial grade oil) is lighter in color and tastes blander than virgin olive oil. When you need general-purpose oil, this is the type of olive oil to seek out.

Refined Olive-Pomace Oil

Avoid this type of oil, as it has been tainted by olive pomace treated with solvents. Actually, this grade is not good for your health.

Olive-Pomace Oil

Once again, this olive oil supplies a combination of refined olive-pomace oil and virgin olive oil, and is not good for you to consume.

Light & Extra Light Olive Oil

Some grocery stores carry olive oil that states it is “light” or “extra light,” which shows no calorie differentiation but is also viewed as one of the lowest quality of olive oils on the market because it has been mixed with refined olive oils.

Photo Credits:

Photo by hyku via Flickr (Creative Commons)

DISCLAIMER: The statements enclosed herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products and information mentioned on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information and statements found here are for education purposes only and are not intended to replace the advice of your medical professional.

12 Responses to “What’s The Best Olive Oil?”

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  1. Biz says:

    I like to saute with grape seed oil, as it has a high smoke point – and adds a nice flavor!

    Happy Friday!

    Biz’s last blog post..Dinner and BSI Recipe – sweet potato!

    • I’ve never cooked with grape seed oil (only used it in salads etc), so it’s great to know that it works well for cooking too. I’ll definitely give it a try now, thanks for taking the time to let us know that! Grape seed oil has huge health benefits too – as do grape seeds but oh I hate eating them! You’ve inspired me to experiment more with grape seed oil!

  2. Jennifer says:

    It says that Olive Pomace Oil isn’t healthy for you and should be avoided, but I am wondering which is worse, Sunflower Oil or Olive Pomace Oil. Does anyone know the answer to this?

    • Donna says:

      Hi Jennifer, interesting question. I’m not sure which would be worse in general. You have to take the quality of particular brands into account though. Some sunflower oils that I’ve seen have antioxidants added and who knows how they are actually processed. I just steer clear of Olive Pomace oil altogether.

      What do you use the sunflower oil for? Are you thinking olive oil might be too heavy or strong tasting as a replacement for sunflower oil?

  3. Truly Up to now I was complicated which oil is better for my cooking. I want healthy oil which does not harm my body. can anybody tell me which oil is truly good? [email protected] rings

    • Donna says:

      Hi David. The topic of which is is best is a complicated one, mostly because there is so much mis-information out there, much of it in the form of very powerful marketing by the makers of canola oil for one. Canola oil is very bad for you, so avoid that for sure. The best oil is Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for cooking and for salad dressings and other recipes where you don’t cook it. But Extra Virgin, Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil is very good for you too, and it’s very good to use in cooking. Just be sure to get the purest form you can find. I hope that helps, and thanks for asking.

  4. This is a really good blog page. I’ve been back once or twice within the last few days and wish to join your rss feed implementing Google but can’t learn the right way to do it exactly. Would you know of any sort of tutorials?

    • Donna says:

      The best and easiest way to subscribe to the RSS feed is to sign up to get updates by email. That uses my RSS feed to send out emails when I’ve published new recipes are articles. You can subscribe to updates by email through the form in the sidebar, or go to the Subscribe via Email page.

  5. Sangeeta says:

    I am planning to buy FARRELL Olive Oil,5 ltr and 5 ltr is free worth 3000 rupees. can you tell me that is ok prise? and how to see its purity (EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL )

    • Donna says:

      Hi Sangeeta. If the oil is Extra Virgin it should say so on the label, it is a selling feature, so they will definitely say if it is. It looks like that brand has an Extra Virgin oil, from the photos on their Facebook page, but you’ll have to make sure the one you are thinking of buying is the Extra Virgin. I’m sorry, I can’t advise you on the price, because I don’t know how that compares to other olive oil in your area. This brand also makes a ‘pomace’ olive oil. You definitely want to stay away from that, the pomace oil is not at all healthy, it’s very low quality.
      I hope that helps,

  6. rimbaud says:

    what about drinking a tablespoon of virgin oil every day?

  7. Sundar says:

    Pomace oil is absolutely safe to consume contrary to what this article says. in fact virgin and extra virgin oils have low boiling points and can used only as salad dressings and mild sautes. Only pure and pomace oils are suitable for indian cooking. Also pomace oil does contain the good qualities of virgin olive oils

    Having said that one could use the much cheaper rice bran oil for similar benefits

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