10 Surprising facts about Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive Oil is simply made by crushing and then pressing olives. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is extracted from fresh and high quality olives by mechanical means, without using heat and chemicals.
To be labelled as “extra virgin”, its acidity must be less than 0.8%. Additionally it has to comply with specific sensory criteria, which means that its taste and aroma don’t have to show organoleptic defects. That’s why quality certifications or Designation of Origin seals are so important.
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Countries where people are raised on diets that include Extra Virgin Olive Oil, have lower rates of heart diseases, diabetes, cancer and asthma. Indeed many studies find the Mediterranean-style diet among the healthiest in the world.
Its quality makes a big difference, i.e. there is evidence of anti-inflammatory benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, while there is not any when it comes to olive oil.
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Extra Virgin Olive Oil contributes to decrease some of the most common risk factors for chronic diseases like obesity, hypertension and osteoporosis.
Additionally, its content of antioxidants helps to slow down heart aging process and acts as a natural skin moisturizer, which explains its broad use in skincare products.
In tasting an Extra Virgin Olive Oil, the common attributes to look for are:
- Fruity: having pleasant spicy fruit flavours characteristic of fresh ripe or green olives.
- Bitter: creating a mostly pleasant acrid flavour sensation on the tongue.
- Pungent: Creating a peppery sensation in the mouth and the throat.
The combination of these three attributes gives rise to mild, medium and robust Extra Virgin Olive Oils.
Pairing oil with food can be just as complex as pairing food with wine, however:
- a mild Evoo goes with fish, seafood, salads, vegetables and mild cheese.
- a medium Evoo pairs well with veal meet, chicken, salmon, tuna, pizza and sauces.
- a robust Evoo is great with grilled beef, asparagus, hard cheese.
Not all the extra virgin olive oils are equally good and that’s why there is an extremely broad range of prices in the market. Even if it’s not necessarily true, higher prices are generally associated with better qualities.
Some of the features that determine quality are: olive variety, climate, olive ripeness, timing of the harvest, collection systems, crushing right after collection, production processes, storage of the product.