We all know the health benefits of olive oil and it’s many uses. With this increasing awareness and the growing trend of health consciousness, it has driven the demand for olive oil to rise steadily.

When you go to the grocery store or supermarket, you will be confronted by the many labels on the olive oil and wondering which is the right one to buy.

Here are some of the terms you should be aware of when buying olive oil:

Extra virgin olive oil – the oil is extracted from olive fruit by mechanical method rather than solvent. Very little heat is used (cold pressed) so that the nutrients are retained. The quality is controlled at no more than 0.8% of fatty acid ( the higher the level, the easier is it to turn rancid).

Virgin olive oil – the oil comes from virgin production and the fatty acid is controlled at less than 1.5%

Refined olive oil – Virgin oil is chemically treated to neutralize the strong taste and acid. This is usually a lower grade.

Pure olive oil – the oil is a blend of virgin and refined oil.

Pomance oil – oil from the remnant of solid olive after extraction and blended with virgin oil

Lampante oil – this oil is traditionally used for oil burning lamps, hence, not suitable for food use

What to look for when buying olive oil?

The University of California, Davis and the Australia Oil research laboratory did an analysis of olive oil sold grocery stores in US and found that 68% were not extra virgin olive oil as claimed to be.

Therefore, be careful when buying olive oil and look out for these:

1) Packaging

Olive oil should be stored in glass container. The glassware should be dark-colored to protect from light.

2) Color of the oil

The color of the oil ranges from green to gold to pale straw. The color does not affect the quality of the oil as it depends on the strain of olive used.

3) Date

Look for harvest date, which should be the current year. Most olives are harvested in October to March. Alternatively, look for  “Best by” date. As the shelf life is normally not more than 2 years.

4) Price

Extra virgin olive oil is expensive time-consuming to produce. So, if you come across bargain price, be suspicious, as it could be adulterated.

5) Seals by Institution

Look for seals from key institutions such as the International Olive Council (IOC), the California Olive Oil Council (COOC). These institutions establish certain criteria for quality control.

PDO ( Protected Designation of Origin) and PGI ( Protected Geographical Indication) are not always a guarantee, but inspire some confidence.

Make sure you apply these key points when buying olive oil so that you are paying for what you get and enjoying the real goodness and health benefits.

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