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What Is EVOO?

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Extra virgin olive oil is often abbreviated EVOO. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) that has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. Touted as a healthy alternative when pan-frying, sautéing, making salad dressings, or even baking, olive oil is seemingly everywhere. However, just like not all fat is the same, not all olive oil is either. Picking the right olive oil can ensure you reap the most benefits.

Benefits

Olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil, is a superfood because it has more health benefits than any other oil. The astounding benefits of olive oil may seem too good to be true. How can something as common as olive oil has so many health benefits? Here is a list of what extra virgin olive oil has proven it can do to improve human health;

  • Better Mood
  • Stronger bones
  • Polyphenols
  • Reduced morbidity
  • Lower heart disease
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-microbial
  • Lower cancer risk
  • Increases oleic acid
  • lowers LDL (bad cholesterol)
  • Improve brain health
  • Vitamin E
  • Increase bone health
  • Regulates metabolism
  • strengthens immune system
  • lowers blood sugar
  • Improves skin health
  • Better cognitive abilities

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Shelf life

Olives are a fruit, so olive oil does get rancid and spoil. They must be stored in a cool dark place and kept in air-tight containers. Dark glass bottles are best to help minimize light exposure. In general, if handled properly, it should last 12 to 18 months from the time it was processed.

Organic

For those who are concerned with foods that are certified organic, there is organic EVOOO available. Organic versions are generally a healthier choice but also more expensive. Olives are not on the official “dirty dozen” list. The bottom line is if money is not a factor for you, choosing a certified organic version is a good idea.

Cold-pressed

The phrase “cold-pressed” on olive oil means it was not exposed to heat above 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius) during processing. Not exceeding this temperature is crucial to maintaining its nutritional integrity. If it does not say “cold-pressed” somewhere on the label it has endured high heat and therefore lost some original nutrients.

Acidity factor

The difference between virgin and extra virgin olive oil is the “acidity. factor.” Regular virgin olive oil can have up to 2.0 percent while EVOO’s maximum is 0.08%.

It is mechanically pressed and processed without the use of chemicals or high heat. This means the olive oil is more likely to retain something called phenols — a compound that provides greater antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties effects. One study found that foods high in phenols could help significantly reduce the risk of certain diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Fakes

Yes, unfortunately, you can’t rely on every bottle of extra virgin olive oil to be legitimate. Fake extra virgin olive oil is all too common. The University of California, Davis, released a study that detailed how, when sampling imported oils, nearly 70% of those oils, even though they were labeled as extra virgin, did not meet international standards for them. If you don’t purchase the right brands and types of olive oil, you could very well be paying the price, but not reaping their benefits.

One way to find a legitimate bottle is to look for third-party certification. For example, the North American Olive Oil Association oversees the About Olive Oil Quality Seal program, which submits participating manufacturers to random testing to ensure their adherence to international regulations and their chemical makeup. Then, the North American Olive Oil Association releases a list of certified brands, so you can shop with confidence.

The Association further clarifies that no country of origin guarantees 100% regulatory adherence, so you can’t base your purchase on just that factor. Authentic extra virgin olive oil can be found in Spain, Italy, the United States, France, Chile, Australia, and beyond. EVOO from other countries sounds romantic for sure. Keep in mind like other things they tend to keep the best for themselves and export the rest.

  • The California olive oil industry generates some of the best in the world.

Choosing to cook with a less expensive, healthy oil like coconut or grass-fed butter and save the olive oil for eating on salads, etc. is a good idea. Switching from less-than-healthy cooking oil is quick and simple. Just be sure to do the research and only buy legitimate EVOO, so you can enjoy your next meal with a big smile.

Monounsaturated oils

Monounsaturated fat, like in olive oil, are fat molecules with one unsaturated carbon bond. This chemical design helps reduce bad cholesterol levels, and the risk of heart disease and stroke while providing vitamins like vitamin E. Other oils high in monounsaturated fats include canola oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, and sesame oil. The problem with these other types of monounsaturated fats is most of them are processed very differently from olive oil.

EVOO is processed in a much healthier manner than other monounsaturated oils. They go through high heat, bleaching, detoxifying and other methods which strip them from their nutrients and cause other health issues.

Expensive

According to Tasting Table, “EVOO is made by grinding olives into a paste, then pressing them to extract the oil. There is no heat involved, hence the “cold-pressed” label you often encounter. The resulting oil has a forest-green color; a grassy, peppery flavor; and a fruity aroma. This method, while effective, takes a substantial amount of time. Certifying the finished product’s purity is also a rigorous, time-consuming process. These factors all contribute to its higher price.”

Polar compounds

In a 2018 study, other common oils are comparable to olive oil when it comes to healthy monounsaturated fat content. However these other oils, especially when used in high-heat conditions, can produce unhealthy by-products, such as polar compounds, which have been shown to produce toxicological effects. The study found, that of all the oils tested, extra virgin olive oil produces explicitly the lowest level of polar compounds when used in high-heat cooking.