I am very keen on the benefits that the Mediterranean Diet has on our health. One of these benefits comes from the use of olive oil as a cooking fat. The Mediterranean countries have this in common and the olive oil (or sometimes other vegetable oils) is used for cooking instead of animal fats.
It is proved that the use of olive oil reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks or strokes. It prevents, as well, some types of cancer.
This is due to the high level of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants.
But, what is the best kind of olive oil we should buy?
To make a decision, we have to distinguish amongst different kinds of olive oils.
1.- Extra Virgin Olive Oil is made from pure, cold-pressed olives without the use of refining methods. It contains no more than 0.8% acidity. It has to be perfect in taste and aroma.
2.– Virgin olive oil is a lesser grade of extra virgin oil. It also comes from the first pressing, with a free acidity of up to 1.5%. It´s a bit milder than Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
3.- Olive oil is olive oil that has been refined using chemical and physical filters. Oils labeled as Pure olive oil, Olive oil, 100% pure or Light are primarily refined olive oil. A small addition of virgin oil has to be added to be acceptable for consumption, as the olive oil itself lacks aroma, taste and natural antioxidants.
4.- Pomace olive oil is obtained from the leftovers of olives after pressed and often blended with some virgin olive oil. It is fit for consumption, but may not be described simply as olive oil. It´s a bland oil and very low in antioxidants.
So, when you buy a bottle of olive oil, read carefully the label to know what you are buying. The more physical and chemical processes involved, the less healthy the olive oil is as it loses its nutritional characteristics and values. You should know the kind of olive oil you are purchasing, the acidity, and also the type of olive as that makes a difference in terms of flavour.