Joey Rea - Oct 17, 2018

What does Extra Virgin Mean?

What does extra virgin mean

Olive oil can be a rather confusing topic.

Walking down the aisle in the grocery store can be, well, daunting... you're surrounded by tons of different brands, and then you look at labels and see words like "light", "refined", "virgin"... the list goes on! What do they mean? What should you be buying? We understand that this can be overwhelming, but don't worry, we've all been there too! 

Here's the breakdown of the different grades of olive oil and why you should be buying one in particular...

There are several different grades, or classes, of olive oil. In fact, there are 6 types that are recognized as "olive oil":

1. Extra virgin olive oil
2. Virgin olive oil
3. Refined olive oil
4. Refined olive pomace oil
5. Olive oil
6. Olive pomace oil

But only one of these grades mentioned above is the type of olive oil you want to be consuming on a daily basis. Can anyone guess which one that might be?

Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner: Extra virgin olive oil, also known as EVOO. This is the only kind of olive oil you want to make apart of your diet on a regular basis. Why?

The term "extra virgin" means the oil is a virgin olive oil that is extracted from healthy, fresh olives, purely by mechanical means, without the use of heat or solvents. It must have a free acidity (expressed as oleic acid) less than 0.8%. Extra virgin olive oil must meet both chemical and sensory standards (free of sensory defects) in order to be classified as extra virgin olive oil. Chemical standards are very stringent and include such variables as free acidity, peroxide and phenolic values along with a number of other variables. 

Extra virgin olive oil is also the healthiest as it contains more antioxidants and vitamins than any other grade. Extra virgin olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat - which is the GOOD FAT your body needs! It also boasts impressive evidence when it comes to protecting the heart and cardiovascular system. Need more convincing? Here are 5 health benefits of EVOO.

Click here to read about the different types of olive oil

There are only 3 positive sensory attributes associated with olive oil. They are:

  1.       Fruitiness - Using the nose as the sensory medium it can be described as green, medium or ripe fruit. Some common good attributes may be green apple, herbaceous, nutty, ripe banana or buttery.
  2.       Bitterness - The sensation is apparent on the tongue soon after tasting. Bitter does not mean bad, it merely defines the profile of the oil.
  3.       Pungency - The sensation that is apparent on the back of the throat after swallowing the oil. It will give the sensation of hot peppers in the case of a strong pungent attribute. 

Another important tip to takeaway from this blog is that there is no difference in caloric intake when consuming different grades of olive oil, it doesn't matter what grade it is. So this is why it's important to choose the most nutrient dense version of olive oil (aka extra virgin olive oil) so you reap the most health benefits! If you are consuming 120 calories per tablespoon, it might as well be worth it, right?

How to shop for the right olive oil

I hope this post helped to make the olive oil aisle in the grocery store a little easier to take on!

What other questions do you have about olive oil?
Ask us anything in the comments below!

Written by Joey Rea