Types of Olive Oil - Virgin, Extra Virgin, and Refined

Flavored Olive Oils
Flavored Olive Oils. Photo: Diana Rattray

In the U.S. the most common olive oils are Italian and Spanish. 

Olive oil is made with crushing washed olives. The paste is macerated and then centrifuged to separate the oil and water from the solids. The water is then removed, leaving olive oil.

The flavor and color of the olive oil depend on the region and type of olives used. Whether the olives are harvested early or when they're more mature can also make a difference in the flavor.

Here are some of the more common types of olive oil.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

This is the highest grade of olive oil. It comes from virgin olive oil production (mechanical with no chemical treatment), is considered to have a superior taste, and contains no more than 0.8% free acidity

Even though it is the highest grade, the quality, aroma, flavor, color, health benefits, and price can vary greatly from one brand to another. Use extra-virgin olive oil in salads.

Virgin Olive Oil

This olive oil is slightly lower in quality, containing about 1.5% free acidity. The flavor is good and it is fine for frying and sauteeing.

Refined Olive Oil

Olive oils labeled "pure olive oil" or just "olive oil" are usually refined olive oils. Refined olive oil is the olive oil obtained from virgin olive oils by refining methods that do not lead to alterations in the initial glyceridic structure. Refined olive oil has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of no more than 0.3 grams per 100 grams (0.3%) and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in the IOOC standards.

This is often a bland oil that may be blended with stronger oils.

Extra Light Olive Oil

This olive oil is lighter in flavor and color, not lower in fat or calories. Because this olive oil lacks flavor, it is excellent for baking and for any use where a high-flavor oil would be intrusive.

Cold Pressed Olive Oil

Cold pressed means the olive oil was pressed without heat. This olive oil is richer in flavor. If the label reads "first cold press," Because it is the first press, it is superior to other cold- pressed olive oils and will have a higher price tag.

Olive Oil Nutritional Information

Per 3.5 ounces (100 g)

Calories: 885

Carbohydrates: 0 g

Fat 100 g

     saturated: 14 g

     monounsaturated 73 g

     polyunsaturated 11 g

     omega-3 fat <1.5 g

     omega-6 fat 3.5 to 21 g

Protein 0 g

Vitamin E 14 mg

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