Whether it’s to lubricate a frying pan or an addition to a dressing, olive oil is a big part of the Mediterranean diet and cooking worldwide. With so many brands and types of olive oil available, it can be confusing to understand. Therefore, are extra virgin olive oil and olive oil the same?
The difference between extra virgin and regular olive oils comes from the way the oil manufacture occurs. Cold-pressed olives alone make up extra virgin olive oil. Standard olive oil comes from a mix of cold-pressed and processed oils.
Extra virgin olive oil is a purer form of natural oil 1. When comparing extra virgin olive oil vs. olive oil (regular olive oil, that is), it’s best to understand what separates these olive oil types.
We’ve taken a deep dive into the olive oil barrel to find out what virgin, extra virgin, and other terms mean when it comes to olive oil.
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Defining Extra Virgin Olive Oil
First things first, we’ve got to define what precisely extra virgin olive oil is. As mentioned in the beginning, the primary difference between extra virgin olive oil and regular olive oil is its composition. The composition of the olive oil is defined by the process with which the olive oil came 2.
Extra virgin olive oil, defined by the traditional cold-pressed methods of acquiring the oil from grinding olives into a paste, is the highest purity oil extracted from olives.
Some additives mix with oils, which further detract from the purity of the finished product. And so, extra virgin olive oil does not include these additives found in lesser oil grades.
So how do we tell which one is which? Some may appear darker than others, but color can be deceptive. Keep in mind there are also different types of olives that can affect the extracted oil color. The method of extraction can also affect the color.
Olive Oils That Get The Grade
Olive oil must be judged and certified to qualify for labeling as an extra virgin grade 3.
Olive oil judgment includes the pH level or the amount of oleic acid. Typical extra virgin olive oil contains no more than 1% oleic acid 4. Standard olive oil, typically a combination of oils, does not come anywhere close to meeting this requirement. And therefore, extra virgin olive oil and olive oil are not the same, despite what you may have heard 5.
Refined Versus Unrefined Oils
Another differentiation between olive oils is how olive oil is refined or not. Refined and processed olive oils may not possess all of the electrolytes or Trace elements found in extra virgin olive oil.
Extra virgin olive oil also does not go through any high-temperature refining processes. Higher-temperature refining processes may not necessarily be useful for you. It is a known fact that oils raised to the smoke point begin to form carcinogens.
Unrefined oils like extra virgin olive oil will typically have more flavor and a darker color. However, it is not always the case, depending on the type of process used to extract the oil from the olives and olives species themselves.
Can I Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil In Place Of Olive Oil?
Many cooking enthusiasts claimed that keeping two bottles of olive oil in the kitchen is the best way to go about it—one bottle of regular olive oil and one bottle of extra virgin olive oil.
Extra virgin olive oil would typically be the preferred oil to use except it cost more money than the less pure regular olive oil. However, extra virgin olive oil can always take the place of regular olive oil.
To receive the name, extra virgin oil manufacturers must follow and adhere to a strict set of regulations set forth by the International Olive Council 6.
Extra virgin olive oil is a pure form of the oil, which is often more expensive than regular olive oil. Regular olive oil is often a combination of other oils. Regular olive oil often finds refinement with processes that do not qualify the oil the extra virgin status. Due to this lack of purity, regular olive oil is typically cheaper than extra virgin olive oil.
Because of the price difference between the two forms of the same oil, many cooks use regular olive oil for frying, seasoning pans, and sauteing. Furthermore, reserving the extra virgin olive oil for making dips, salad dressings, and more consumable products are standard.
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Is Extra Virgin Olive Oil Safe For Cooking?
A lack of impurities in the oil also means the oil has more minerals, vitamins, and nutrients than the other oils that may be filtered and processed further. You may be wondering if extra virgin olive oil is safe for cooking because of these extras that occur naturally in the oil.
Extra virgin olive oil is completely safe for cooking. One should consider it preferential over the use of ordinary olive oil. As extra virgin olive oil is more expensive, it is often unused for seasoning pans or sauteing.
Typically, extra virgin olive oil is reserved for use in dressings, dips, and the like, compared with the regular oil used for seasoning pans and sauteing. I’ll use extra virgin when I fry seafood including scallops. With scallops, do you know which is better, farm-raised or wild caught? Find out by checking out my blog post, Farm-Raised Vs Wild Caught Scallops: Which Seafood Is Best?
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Which Is Better For Skin Olive Oil Or Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality and purest form of olive oil on the market. It’s the reason why extra virgin olive oil is also the most expensive.
Extra virgin olive oil is purer than other olive oil forms, making it better for your skin and cooking.
There are multiple studies on the refining processes required for extra virgin olive oil compared to regular olive oils. The refining processes allow for extra virgin olive oil to retain a more significant number of nutrients. These nutrients will enable us to define the amount we consider oils beneficial to people, at least on a nutritional basis.
If the intent of using any extra virgin olive oil is for your skin, one assumes having the natural trace elements, vitamins, and minerals in the oil that has proven to be beneficial, is preferred.
Some of the significant trace elements and other things in olive oil include antioxidants 7. These antioxidants fight free radical damage 8 and are also responsible for the fantastic effect olive oil has to help prevent the skin’s early aging.
Whenever olive oil comprises an elixir component for the skin 9, it should always be extra virgin olive oil and nothing less. After all, you’re choosing a product to try to help your skin. Why would you choose a cheap, processed version? After all, you don’t have a cheap processed body, do you?
The Final Say On Extra Virgin Olive Oil Vs. Regular Olive Oil
The difference between extra virgin olive oil and regular olive oil comes down to the process with which it comes from the olives. Extra virgin olive oil requires a strict cold-pressed methodology for oil extraction.
Extra virgin olive oil must also contain 1% oleic acid. This form of olive oil is the purest and considered the unrefined form of the oil. Refined versions no longer constitute extra virgin olive oil and may only fall into virgin olive oil or regular olive oil classification.
Extra virgin olive oil storage is similar to regular oil storage, like traditional olive oil. However, extra virgin olive oil can have a decreased shelf life due to the additional minerals compared to more processed oils. Of course, the trade-off is the alleged health benefits that extra virgin olive oil has shown to have over regular oils.
Read Next – More Food vs Food!
- Wikipedia: Olive Oil
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Potential Health Benefits of Olive Oil and Plant Polyphenols
- USDA: Safeguarding Consumers from Olive Oil Fraud
- USDA: Grades of Olive Oil
- International Olive Council: Trade Standard Applying To Olive Oils And Olive-Pomace Oils
- International Olive Council
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Health Effects of Phenolic Compounds Found in Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, By-Products, and Leaf of Flea europaea L.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Extra virgin olive oil: More than a healthy fat
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils