What Is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

Extra virgin olive oil, unlike other varieties, is characterized by a distinctive flavor and by certain amounts of nutrients. The manufacturing process is also not the same, and this fact determines the majority of the differences.

Manufacturing of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

In the manufacturing process, only physical means are used. Since there is no chemical treatment, the taste is superior. A cold press, where the temperature does not exceed 27 degrees Celsius, is used for extracting the oil from olives.

The acidity of extra virgin olive oil is also specific. To receive this qualification, olive oil must have an acidity of no more than 0.8 percent. By way of comparison, the other varieties of olive oil have the following acidity levels:

  • Virgin oil has acidity levels ranging between 1 and 2 percent
  • Ordinary virgin olive oil has acidity levels of 2 to 3.3 percent

Olive oils that have an acidity exceeding 3.3 percent should not be used for cooking.

Uses and Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is widely used, especially in the Mediterranean cuisine. Some of the foods to which it can be added include:

  • Dips
  • Salads
  • Soups
  • Stews
  • Stir fried foods

This variety of olive oil is healthier than canola or vegetable oil, has antioxidant properties due to its content of polyphenolic phytonutrients, and is considered a very good source of vitamin E. Extra virgin olive oil is also able to decrease low density lipoprotein (“bad” cholesterol) levels, thus helping in the prevention of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases. More than that, this variety is able to increase the concentration of high density lipoprotein, which is used for destroying fat deposits found in the blood vessel walls.

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