Olive oil, considered as one of the healthiest oils available, has been a recommended food ingredient in many diet plans. However, many people end up confused and bewildered as they shop for their bottle of olive oil, realizing that there are different kinds of such. From expeller-pressed to cold-pressed, from organic to natural oil, it is hard to tell the difference or whether one variant is better than the other. Here are some useful tips in clarifying the sometimes confusing terms on the labels of olive oils.
This process involves the extraction of oils from nuts or seed through mechanical means, without the use of added chemicals. Although no outside heat is added to extract the oils, the process may become hotter as more friction is created while extracting harder nuts or seeds.
This is similar to expeller pressed, only that the temperature is controlled to stay below 120 degree Fahrenheit (48.88 degrees Celsius). This method is commonly used on more delicate oils like wheat germ oil, evening primrose oil, and extra virgin olive oil to retain their flavor.
In order for an olive oil be considered organic, it must contain at least 95% organic ingredients. This means that the ingredients should have been grown without the use of conventional pesticides or artificial fertilizers. Once certified, the manufacturer can include certification seals of approval citing the products are organic as well as the USDA seal.
It simply means that nothing artificial is added in the making of this oil. However, what is considered "natural" or "artificial" is still being debated. To make sure you are buying natural olive oil, check the label and see if the ingredients are familiar. For instance, if the ingredients list merely includes olive oil, then you can conclude it is natural.
Extra-virgin olive oil
This type of olive oil is extracted using the cold pressing process and contains an acidity level of less than 1%. Extra-virgin olive oils are usually the most expensive type of olive oil as it is known for its rich flavor and is commonly used as salad dressing.
Virgin olive oil
Virgin olive oil is made of riper olives and is extracted through cold pressing. It is similar to extra-virgin olive oil, only that it is lower-grade and has a higher acidity at 1.5%. It is recommended for cooking.
Refined olive oil
A refined olive oil is made of virgin olive oil that is processed by refining methods such as charcoal and other chemical and physical filters. This olive oil does not have an altered glyceride structure, but has a higher acidity level compared to virgin olive oil at 3.3%.
Pure olive oil
Olive oil labeled as "pure" is made from the second cold pressing or chemical extraction. It appears lighter in color and taste compared to virgin olive oil and has multiple usage from cooking to salad dressing, even in making soap.
Pomace olive oil
This is obtained by treating the ground olive flesh and pits that were leftover after pressing with the use of solvents or other physical filters. Some health experts dismiss this as an inferior type of olive oil, which should be better used for soap making or industrial purposes.
Light and extra-light olive oil
This is made from low-grade olive oils that are refined through chemical processing. The "light" on the label does not refer to the calorie content.