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What is the Difference Between Olive Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

olive oil

We have already talked about how amazing olive oil is for your body. If you haven’t had a chance to read that article head over there now! Ok, welcome back. Now that you know – it is time to go shopping! Browsing the stores or online shops you will see a wide variety of different oils and might be a bit confused. You may find yourself thinking “what is the difference between olive oil and extra virgin olive oil?” or “which one should I buy?” Let’s take a look shall we!

Both types of olive oil begin life the same way – they are both made from the fruit of an olive tree. They both differ, however, when it comes to extraction, nutritional value, use, and flavor.

The extraction process for the two types of oil differ greatly – extra virgin olive oil is extracted using a technique called cold extraction or cold pressed. Meaning no excessive heat is used to extract the oil from the olive. With regular olive oil they tend to use heat and/or chemicals to separate the olive from its oil. The heating and chemical treatments strip the natural nutrients and flavor from the oil.

Due to the way it is extracted, extra virgin olive oil retains high level of natural nutrients, antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals. It is the highest quality olive oil you can get due to the low amount of oleic acid it contains, which also helps makes the oil a bit lighter and tastier. Plus it is typically unrefined or unfiltered where regular olive oil is typically a blend of olive oil and refined oils.

When it comes to cooking with olive oil the two varieties differ greatly in their smoke point. What is a ‘smoke point’ you may be wondering. That term refers to the temperature at which the oil will start to burn and produce a bluish colored smoke. Refined olive oil can handle higher temperatures than extra virgin olive oil can, therefore it is better for high heat cooking techniques like frying. Extra virgin olive oil is better for light sautéing or being used as a drizzle or salad dressing.


Here is a quick overview:

Olive Oil Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Light yellow in color Golden-green in color
Light flavor and aroma Strong flavor and aroma
Neutral flavor A bit fruity, a little peppery, and possibly slightly bitter – very distinctly olive
Refined before it is bottled Not subjected to additional processes
May be treated with additive or preservatives Nothing added to the oil
3-4% oleic acid Less than 1% oleic acid
Low in antioxidants and vitamins Rich in antioxidants and vitamins
Smoke point = 468°F (242°C) Smoke point = 375°F (190°C)


Nutrition experts tend to agree that extra virgin olive oil is one of the highest quality oils you can cook with. It is simply full of antioxidants and nutrients that your body needs. It honestly makes a perfect and delicious addition to your meals!


What are your favorite olive oils or dishes you use olive oil in?

Let us know in the comments!

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Comments (2)

Tod Levitt

While explaining extra virgin olive oil, the article lacked the information that most off the shelf such oils, including almost all the major brands, are not actually extra virgin and sometimes cut with other oils. See, as one of many examples
This is also a selling point for buying oil through Miz

    Miz En Place

    Very true. Perhaps this would be a good subject for a future article. Thank you for your input.

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