What makes olive oil different from other vegetable oils?
You can't open a magazine or watch a TV program without it being about 'healthy living'. And even during a nice dinner with a good friend, sooner or later it will be about it. For example, I recently had dinner with a friend I hadn't seen or spoken to since high school. In addition to her job, she works as an editor for a television program producer at a gym. And so she is naturally busy with her health in a fun way. Of course everyone should eat what she feels good about, but what struck me is that she pretty much threw all the vegetable oils in one heap. And that went a step too far for me - it won't surprise you :) - a step too far. There's nothing I like more than talking about extra virgin olive oil, so I took the opportunity.
Olive oil comes directly from the fresh olive fruit. It is 100% pure oil without any additives. Olive oil producers wash the olives with water, and once they are clean, they squeeze the fruit to extract the oil. This is absolutely not the same for all other vegetable oils that you see in the supermarkets.
Most vegetable oils use solvents to extract the oil from the seeds and nuts, a process that destroys natural nutrients because of the price, as it is certainly not expensive. And it gives off little odor, which is sometimes seen as an advantage. What many people don't know is that manufacturers use hexane (a compound that comes from crude oil) and high temperatures to extract, refine, bleach and deodorize the oil. You might have some doubts about that.
But there are also different types of olive oil that can differ in quality. The best choice is always: Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
These two words, extra and virgin, describe the purest, highest quality olive oil, made without chemicals. And as an Extra Virgin to be judged, you know that the producer has taken extra care of the product by, for example, keeping the temperature at 27° or lower during the extraction process. That is why these oils also say: first cold pressing.
My friend was convinced that she would do well to buy a bottle with the label: 100% virgin olive oil. I had to explain to her that this is just a marketing ploy, because it's not a formal name. You should actually ignore the labels where you see 'light olive oil' for example. These are simply refined and the good substances have virtually disappeared. Oil just remains a fat and it is therefore never really healthy. But I think: if you use fats, use the healthiest fats out there.
What I do, and I understand that not everyone can or wants to, is to buy directly from the producer. Then you know what happened to it and that it really meets the requirements for extra virgin olive oil.
First cold pressing olive oil
The quality of olive oil depends on many factors.
I won't bore you with the specific product testing involved in olive oil production, but rigorous chemical and organoleptic (taste and smell) testing determines the final quality of the olive oil. Extra virgin indicates maximum quality during production and therefore should not have any defects in the taste test. Virgin olive oil scores slightly lower in quality than extra virgin olive oil. Both extra virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil contain antioxidants and vitamins. They are both excellent quality olive oils and both are good for health.
Scientific studies show time and again that extra virgin olive oil has many health benefits. It is not for nothing that it is one of the essential ingredients of the Mediterranean diet. Too much of certain fats can lead to clogged arteries, but studies show that adding olive oil to a diet can reduce the risk of heart disease. Of course, this also only applies if you use it in the right amounts. And in moderation.
But this is just one of the many health benefits of this fantastic oil. There are so many more. Can't wait to share these in future blogs.
That's why I don't settle for any cooking oil and always (and only) use an extra virgin olive oil. I choose my oil depending on the dish, because sometimes it can be a bit more pronounced than other times.