Unlike regular olive oil, extra-virgin olive oil is unrefined (not processed with chemicals or heat), and it has much less oleic acid than regular olive oil (meaning its fat hasn’t been broken down). It has a distinctive rich colour and a notably peppery flavour.
Technically, “extra virgin” is a grade of olive oil, usually indicating the highest quality oil distinguished by its naturally low levels of free oleic acid. To qualify as “extra virgin,” olive oil must have a free acid count of less than one per cent.
Extra virgin olive oil is the least processed form of olive oil. Due to this, it retains its natural antioxidants and vitamins, which are often lost during processing. This makes it a more healthful oil than regular olive oil and a little more expensive.
The three primary grades of olive oil include:
refined olive oil
virgin olive oil
extra virgin olive oil
The Nutrient composition of extra virgin olive oil
Saturated fat: 14% of total calories
Monounsaturated fat: 73% of total calories (primarily oleic acid)
Polyunsaturated fat (PUFA): 11% of total calories
Vitamin E: 13% of the Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin K: 7% of the DV