December 31, 2020 by A.Asma

What makes olive oil extra virgin?

What makes olive oil extra virgin?

Olive oil has many types and brands. Its nutritional values differ according to its composition and the way it is processed. The question remains, what makes olive oil extra-virgin? What are the benefits of consuming extra virgin olive oil? Olive oil is composed primarily of triacylglycerols, fatty acid, glycerol, phosphatides, pigments, flavor compounds, sterols, and microscopic bits of olive. The quality of the oil, its nutritional and sensorial characteristics are the result of ‘’the geographical origin, harvesting time, and processing system’’. Samples obtained from previous studies showed distinct oil qualities of the same varieties cultivated in different regions. In the Mediterranean area, olive stands out as the most common fruit due to its beneficial health effects, in particular, on lowering the risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular diseases. However, the complex interaction between many environmental and technological factors is what determines the beneficial properties of the product. You might wonder, what makes olive oil extra virgin?

The importance of olive oil, and its golden nutritional values, led specialists to set certain standards for different olive oils. Producers tend to increase the competitiveness of produced oils by respecting the important quality features and consumer preferences. There are different types of olive oil.

Olive oil v.s extra version olive oil

Olive oil nutritional value: (per 100 g)

Regular olive oil ‘’obtained solely from the fruit of olive tree’’ (source: Olea europaea L)

Total fat 100 g

  • Saturated fat 14 g
  • Polyunsaturated fat 11 g
  • Monounsaturated fat 73 g

Cholesterol 0 mg

Sodium 2 mg

Potassium 1 mg

Total carbohydrate

  • Dietary fiber 0 g
  • Sugar 0 g

Protein 0 g

Vitamin A 0 g

Calcium 0 g

Vitamin D 0 g

Iron 3% (of daily value)

Pomace olive oil (14.18 g) ‘’ olive only extracted from the olive pulp after the first prest’’.

Calories 12

Total fat 1 g

Sodium 0 mg

Carbohydrates 0 g

  • Net carbs 0 g
  • Sugar 0 g
  • Fiber 0 g

Protein 0 g

Extra virgin olive oil is “virgin olive oil with a free acidity’’.

One tablespoon of Extra virgin olive oil consists of the following nutritional value :(14 g)

Total fat 14 g

  • Saturated fat 1.9 g (10% of the daily value)
  • Polyunsaturated fat 1.4 g
  • Monounsaturated fat 9.8 g

Cholesterol 0 mg

Sodium 0.3 mg

Potassium 0.1 mg

Total Carbohydrates 0 g

  • Dietary fiber 0 g
  • Sugars 0 g

Protein 0 g

Vitamin A 0% of DV

Vitamin C 0% of DV

Calcium 0% of DV

Iron 0.4% of DV

  • The comparison between the refined olive oil and extra virgin olive oil indicates the higher nutritional value of the EVOO. The phenolic compounds and squalene content preserve the oil against toxic hydrolysis and oxidation.
  • Flavor:

An olive oil expert clarified that refined oils, olive oil, and pomace olive oil, have ‘’no bitterness’’ and they lack "the antioxidants and anti-inflammatories”.(RichardGawel)

In general, people prefer cooking with refined olive oil as they are lighter and with no deep flavor. While EVOO is mainly added to cold dishes and salad dressings; ‘’Yes you can sauté in EVOO ‘’, Diana Schwarzbein said.

  • Smoke point:

The Smoke point is defined as the temperature at which an oil begins to burn. The smoke point of refined olive oils is 199-243°C and 405°C for Extra virgin olive oil. Nutritionists assume that EVOO is not only safe but also beneficial.

  • color:

Refined olive oils tend to have light golden color because they are produced using high heat. Extra virgin olive oil, on the other hand, has generally deep grassy green.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The Mediterranean diet is a common healthy diet that distinguishes the regions of the Mediterranean Basin. The concept was first introduced in early 1975 by the American biologist Ancel Keys as a result of several studies. It’s a lifestyle that consists of high consumption of EVOO, vegetables, fruits, fish, nuts, moderate intake of eggs. In 2013, UNESCO classified MD on the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The peculiar cultivars of EVOO and its nutritional properties are an essential component in the Mediterranean diet. Indeed, the consumption of organic oil lowers the risk of several chronic diseases.

What makes olive oil extra-virgin?

Pick the olives:

There are two ways for this step either traditionally by hand-picking the olives from the trees or using heavy machines, known as harvest machines, to remove the olives.

Transport the olives:

Olives should be carefully transported to the press. Some people transport their products in the back of the car but larger companies use tracks or vans for the olives’ transportation.

  • Press the olives:

This step can last for hours because olives are transported late after being picked.

  • Deleafing:

Consist of using a special machine to remove any branches or leaves from the crop.

  • Washing the olives:

An essential step consists of carefully washing the olives before they are crushed.

  • Crushing the olives:

The olives are crushed into a paste to facilitate the release of the oil from the vacuoles.

  • Pressing the olives:

It is the process of separating the oil from the olives.

  • Oil separation:

The oil is now moved to the separator to separate the water from it.

There are five basic types of Virgin olive oil:

Premium extra virgin olive oil: has low acidity (0.225 %)

Extra virgin olive oil: has low acidity (0.8 %)

Fine virgin olive oil: has an acidity level of 1.5 %

Virgin olive oil: its acidity level is 2 % or less

Semi fine virgin olive oil: the acidity level is 3.3 %

(Source: IOOC standards)

Why Tunisian Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the best?

The North African country is one of the leading countries in olive production. The geographical and climatic characteristics of Tunisia favors the cultivation of a huge variety of olives: Chemlali, Chetoui, zalmati, Ouesleti, Chemcheli. Olives are passionately hand-picked and carefully pressed guaranteeing exceptional olive quality. To answer the question, what makes olive oil extra virgin? It is all of the above details.


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