I am very keen on the benefits that the Mediterranean Diet has in 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.
But, what is the best kind of olive oil we should use for cooking?
We have to distinguish amongst different kind 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% free acidity.
2.– Virgin olive oil is a lesser grade of virgin oil, with a free acidity of up to 1.5%.
3.- Refined olive oil is virgin oil that has been refined using chemical and physical filters. Oils labelled as Pure olive oil or Olive oil are primarily refined olive oil, with a small addition of virgin oil to be acceptable for consumption.
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.
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.