The characteristics of extra virgin olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil is obtained from a mechanical process of olive pressing and only oils which have an acidity below 0,8%, the right texture, a perfect flavour and aroma without a hint of mould, deposits or rancidity, as well as a distinct fruity taste and also smell good can be classed as “extra virgin”.
Every type of oil, whether it be extra virgin olive, virgin olive, lampante or olive pomace oil is classed on the basis of specific parameters. Where extra virgin olive oil is concerned, the oil must NOT have values above the following:
- acidity (%) < 0,8
- peroxides < 20
- alogenate solvents < 0,20
- wax substances < 250
- free fatty acids < 1,3
- stigmastadiene < 0,15
These are only some of the values used to classify extra virgin olive oil. A detailed chemical analysis can reveal many more.
What is the degree of acidity?
This parameter measures the quantity of free fatty acids in the oil. It is influenced by how the oil is preserved and how ripe the olives are when harvested. Acidity is much lower in oils that are young and well preserved and much higher in oils that are derived from imperfect olives or ill-preserved.
Identifying an oil’s degree of acidity allows us to classify it and determine its quality.
European Community laws indicate that extra virgin olive oil should have a degree of acidity which does not exceed 0,8%. Obviously, the lower the acidity, the better the quality of the oil.
What are peroxides
Peroxides are chemical compositions that are formed when the oil is attacked by the oxygen in the air. They cause a process of oxidization of the fats within the oil which confers an undesirable rancid taste. Oils obtained from olives that were healthy and correctly preserved prior to crushing will have a value of peroxides well below a value of 10 and be of good quality.
When the quantity of peroxides rises and exceeds a value of 20 due to ageing and poor preservation,the oil cannot be considered fit for human consumption.
All extra virgin olive oil is obtained from a mechanical grinding process followed by washing, defoliation, crushing, kneading and centrifugal separation. At no point in the process must the oil undergo chemical changes.
Characteristics of olive oil and its importance in a healthy diet
Extra virgin olive oil is a vegetable fat and, as such, cannot and must not be excluded from our diet. It contains fatty acids like linoleic acid which benefits our bodies in several ways. Firstly, it protects our arteries by helping to reduce excess cholesterol in our blood. Secondly, combined with other fatty acids present in olive oil, it promotes bone development, body growth, muscular activity and even brain development.
It has been scientifically proven that components found in extra virgin olive oil help to combat the effects of cellular ageing brought about by free radicals.
Other studies have shown that because oil is easily digestible, it is perfect for all types of diet and both hot and cold food. It is a valuable component in the diets of the elderly and of children from weaning onwards. It is important in pregnancy because it helps the foetus develop its nervous system. Athletes enjoy olive oil because it can be easily digested as well as increase appetite.
Olive oil is also used in cosmetics and to treat wounds.
Medical research has proven that regular use of olive oil in one’s diet can even help to prevent certain forms of cancerous tumours, such as colon, rectum, oesophagus, breast, prostrate etc.
Nutritional values in extra virgin olive oil:
Values per 100 grammes:
Edible part : 100 % – Kcal 900 – animal protein 0 g – vegetable protein 0 g – carbohydrats 0 g – fat – 100 g – fibre – 0 g – iron – 0 mg – calcium – 0 mg – vitamin c – 0 mg