Depending on its place of origin and the variety of olives used , olive oil has a wide range of flavors and fragrances and the consumer should choose and buy the type that best suits his/her particular taste and the food to prepare.
Extra virgin olive oil is like fine wine. Its taste and aroma can be easily distinguished by the nose and the palate, then discussed and dissected.
A series of requirements are declared on national and international regulations to identify Trade Standards for olive oils. The quality is measured in two steps: acidity evaluation and taste test.
According to the International Olive Oil Council (IOOC), these are the categories:
1)VIRGIN OLIVE OIL is the oil obtained from the fruit of the olive tree solely by mechanical or other physical means under conditions, particularly thermal conditions, which do not lead to the alteration of the oil. It has not undergone any treatment
other than washing, decanting, centrifuging and filtering. When virgin olive oil is intended for consumption in its natural state, it is called by one of the following
a- Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a maximum acidity of 1% and organoleptic characteristics stipulated in the standards for this category;
b- Virgin Olive Oil has a maximum acidity of 2% and organoleptic characteristics stipulated in the standards for this category;
c- Ordinary Virgin Olive Oil has a maximum acidity of 3% and organoleptic characteristics stipulated in the standards for this category;
d- Lampante Virgin Olive Oil has more than 3.3% of acidity and organoleptic characteristics stipulated in the standards for this category. It is not fit for consuption in its original state and should be refined prior to its use as a food stuff.
2)REFINED OLIVE OIL is obtained from virgin olive oils, generally Lampante, by refining methods that do not alter the initial glyceride structure of the oil.
3)OLIVE OIL is a specific foodstuff term for a blend of refined olive oil and virgin olive oil fit for consumption as is.
Olive oil contains a series of compounds that are very beneficial to most functions of the human body and its' biological and therapeutic value is related in many aspects to its chemical structure.
The first aspect is its triglyceride composition, made up of fatty acids. Olive oil has a prevalence of monounsaturates, oleic acid principally, while animal fats are fundamentally made up of saturated fatty acids and seed oils of polyunsaturates.
Monounsaturated fatty acids are much more stable. Olive oil also has a low percentage of polyunsaturates and this is important because these kind of fatty acids cannot be synthesized by the body.
The second aspect is in its minor components. The most salient ones are the tocopherols and polyphenols. These components have a major antioxidant function and are closely connected with virgin olive oils because refining processes alter and remove them.
Extra-virgin olive oil is the most digestible of the edible fats and:
it helps to assimilate vitamins A, D and K;
it contains essential acids that cannot be produced by our own
it slows down the aging process;
it helps bile, liver and intestinal functions.