We all know that olive oil's better for you than other types of oil, but a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology confirms just how healthy olive oil can be.
These findings suggest that consuming over ½ a tablespoon of olive oil a day can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by 14%.
If you want to enjoy better health, olive oil's a great addition to your diet. Yet, if you want to get the best taste benefits out of cooking with olive oil too, you've got a variety of options to choose from.
These are the best types of olive oil to use in your next culinary creation.
The Different Types of Olive Oil
There are five main olive oil types. The difference between them depends on how they're extracted from the olive and any treatments they undergo before they're sold to the consumer.
Let's take a look at these olive oil varieties in turn.
This is the most expensive and sought-after type of olive oil. This oil's extracted from cold-pressing the olives without adding any extra heat. Extra virgin olive oil's not refined or processed in any way.
It typically has an acidity level below 0.8%. This olive oil's best suited for drizzling, dipping, and as an ingredient in salad dressing.
Extra virgin olive oils vary widely in taste. Some are bitter and pungent, while others are very mellow and delicate. These different tastes go better with different foods.
Unless you attend an olive oil tasting, the only way to find out what you like best is by trial and error. Thanks to the versatility of extra virgin olive oil, you're bound to find ways to enjoy it, no matter where it falls along the taste spectrum.
This is a relatively new category of olive oil. The main difference between this type of oil and extra-virgin olive oil is that's it's always really fresh.
It's a low acid oil with an acidity of just 0.23%, with a clean, fresh taste. Ultra-premium extra virgin olive oil is a fantastic addition to salad dressing, makes an excellent dip, and adds that little something extra to grilled fish and vegetable dishes.
The term 'Ultra-Premium' came about as an attempt to seperate good quality olive oil from cheap imitations. As long as you buy your extra virgin olive oil from a reputable source, you needn't worry too much about this classification.
Virgin Olive Oil
Virgin olive oil's more acidic than EVOO with less than 2% acidity and has a very light flavor. It's cold-pressed and free of refined oils too.
You can try it for drizzling or cooking, but it's not suited for sauteing, deep-frying, or for making sauces.
Pure Olive Oil
This type of olive oil's a blend of both virgin and refined olive oils. It's a good all-purpose oil suited to frying, grilling, cooking, and baking.
Pure olive oil has a mild flavor and an acidity level of around 3.3% but it doesn't offer many health benefits.
Extra light olive oil has a neutral flavor, light color, and little odor. Olive oil producers refine this type of oil using heat.
It has a higher smoke point than other oils and a longer shelf life and is ideal for those who don't want any olive flavor in their dishes.
Infused Olive Oils
These flavorful olive oil varieties result from heating extra virgin olive oil very slightly and then adding dried herbs or spices to the mix. The resulting blend's left to steep for a while before use.
These types of olive oil are excellent for adding a little zest to cooked dishes or salads. You can cook with them, but for the best flavor benefits, it's best to use them as-is as a final touch to your culinary masterpiece.
You can infuse your olive oils yourself or buy them ready-made for extra convenience.
Choosing the Best Olive Oil
Apart from how you plan to reap the benefits of olive oil, there are a few other things to consider when shopping for the best types of olive oil.
Check the labels. Be wary of ''product of'' claims. These don't refer to the origin of the olive oil, rather where the supplier bottled it.
Look for the true country of origin's initials on the back of the bottle. For example 'IT' for Italy or 'GR' for Greece. As far as possible, always buy olive oil that's bottled as close as possible to where it's grown.
Beware of cheap olive oil. Manufacturing high-quality olive oil takes time and expertise. A low price is usually a sign of a sub-standard oil.
Storing and Using Olive Oil
The best olive oil's free of preservatives, so it won't last for a long time in storage. Always buy only as much as you can use relatively quickly.
Most olive oil has a best by date on the label, but it's always best when you use it fresh. Store it in a cool, dark place and always seal the bottle tightly after use. Olive oil starts degrading fast when it comes into contact with air and light.
A glass container's best for storing your olive oil.
Buying the Best Quality Olive Oil
Buying olive oil imported from Europe's an expensive undertaking and also prolongs the time it takes from farm to table.
We are a locally based grower and manufacturer of premium quality olive oils, made to order. If you want to get the best benefits from olive oil, try us first.
Take a look at our tasty range of plain or infused olive oils, or get in touch for more information.