Many consumers believe lite olive oil is the same as extra virgin olive oil but with less calories. That is false. Several producers use the term “lite extra virgin olive oil,” but that can be very misleading. Lite olive oil is not considered a true extra virgin olive oil because it has been refined to a lower quality. This means you’re not getting all the same health benefits or flavor as a quality extra virgin olive oil.
How is olive oil graded?
Olive oil has four different grades of quality based on how it is made: extra virgin, virgin, regular or pure, and lite or extra lite.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil or EVOO
Real extra virgin olive oil is the highest grade you can buy because it’s only been extracted once. Recent studies have shown almost 70 percent of so-called extra virgin olive oil sold today does not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture standards. As a solution, the California Olive Oil Council established its Seal Certification Program where members, like Pasolivo, are required to meet certain quality standards.
In order to qualify as extra virgin grade, the COOC states extreme heat and chemicals cannot be used during extraction. At Pasolivo, we sustainably farm, harvest and cold press our olives on-site within hours of picking to maintain peak freshness and flavor. We also never use machinery that could damage the olives during picking. This ensures we get maximum flavor, maximum health benefits, and a richer oil.
Virgin Olive Oil
Virgin olive oil is the next best grade. The term “virgin” means the oil is made from the first pressing, but the quality standards aren’t as strict. Another notable difference is the acidity. Extra virgin olive oil contains no more than .8 percent acidity, but virgin olive oil has about 2 percent oleic acid. Acidity doesn’t necessarily dictate the flavor profile, but it does determine quality.
Regular or Pure Olive Oil
Regular or pure olive oil is a mixture of oil from the second pressing plus what’s been extracted using heat and chemical treatments. Unfortunately, many of the health benefits are removed during that process. The reason it is called “pure” olive oil is because it’s not mixed with other oils. However, it is sometimes made with older, unhealthy olives that possess little, if any, health benefits.
Extra Light Olive Oil
Despite misconception, light and extra light olive oil is the lowest grade you can buy. That’s because it’s refined and often mixed with other oils such as vegetable or canola oil. This means less flavor and a lighter color, while calorie count and fat content stays about the same. Some consumers choose lite olive oil for its higher smoke point and neutral taste. Others are deceived by its packaging.
Which EVOO is the best?
Again, extra virgin olive oil is going to give you the most flavor and the most health benefits for about the same number of calories as another grade. It may cost more, but the price is worth the pay off. From decreasing the risk of heart disease and strokes, to its significant antioxidant content and its powerful moisturizing and rejuvenating benefits; true California extra virgin olive oil is the best you can buy.