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Cold pressed olive oil is surprisingly healthy

Updated on May 11, 2016

Extra virgin olive oil has an aura of superb quality. It transforms ordinary food into elegant fare. It is a luxury for every day. And it is one of the healthiest foods in your kitchen.

Unlike most vegetable oils, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) does not need to be refined after it is pressed. There is no chemical treatment or detoxification. Olives are ground to a paste and then squeezed with an oil press; after a simple filtering the oil is ready for use. Because there is no further processing, the olive’s natural flavor is preserved. What else is preserved? Vitamins. Minerals. Antioxidants. Pure goodness.

Green olives are used for oil because black olives produce a flavor that is too mild. Green and black are not different types of olives, however. Black are fully ripened, while green are... well, green. They produce a stronger flavor when harvested before they ripen on the tree.

Watch olives being pitted and processed through the oil press

Pressed oil keeps the most flavor

So what is the difference between virgin, extra virgin, and plain old olive oil? Quality of flavor is a factor, but olive oil is graded by its acidity. Extra virgin, which has the most delicate flavor, has less than 1% acidity. Virgin olive oil is pressed from slightly riper olives and has an acidity level of 1.5%. Regular olive oil has a higher acidity and is lighter in color, but has a bland flavor.

Watch out for misleading labels! “Light” olive oil does not have reduced calories. It is a mixture of refined olive oils which have been chemically processed. Along with flavor, nutrients have been removed in processing. “Light” olive oil is actually less healthy than regular, virgin, and extra virgin.

Scroll down to see a Butter to Olive Oil conversion chart. Try the healthy quick switch in your own favorite recipes.

Which grade of oil you buy will depend on two factors: use and price. Delicate extra virgin will lose its flavor if heated too high.

For salad dressing, drizzling on toasted bread, or brushing on meat or fish after cooking, go with EVOO. Substitute it for butter when you mash your potatoes.

If you want to fry, stick with the less expensive regular or even light olive oil. They will still provide you with a health benefit and will hold up better to the heat because they have a higher smoke point.

A quick note about smoke point

If there is a visible vapor while you are heating your cooking oil, you have reached it. This is bad because:

  • Your oil is decomposing
  • Your healthy nutrients have evaporated
  • Your flavor has changed from tasty... to nasty
  • Your stove is about to ignite.

Kill the heat, scrap the oil (safely!), and start over with fresh. Once your oil smokes it cannot be saved.

The smoke point of extra virgin olive oil is rated as low as 200° and as high as 400°. Light olive oil has the highest rating, going as high as 450°. By contrast:

  • Refined Canola oil: 400°
  • Refined Soy oil: 400°
  • Refined Sunflower oil: 450°

Keep smoke point in mind when you are baking as well.

Protect your healthy oils

Light, heat, and air will degrade all grades of olive oil. Keep your oil in an airtight container, out of direct sunlight, and away from the heat of your stove. Stored away in its cool, dry place, olive oil will last up to 18 months. Refrigeration is not recommended. If you live in a warmer climate, stick with smaller bottles to help preserve the freshness.

Olive oil for skin care

Olive oil is excellent for skin treatments. Use it for shaving; it reduces razor burn and moisturizes beautifully. Add a few tablespoons to your bath before you crawl in with a book. Extra virgin is the best for your skin because it is the most pure and has the least acidity.

Another amazing olive oil fact: It kills head lice! Yup. Apply it to your child’s hair and let it work for 45 minutes. Then shampoo twice. You will still need to check for nits, and take measures to prevent them from returning. There you have a natural, chemical free head lice treatment - with a high fun factor!

Olive oil has some other surprising uses outside of the kitchen. It makes a good furniture polish. Got a squeaky hinge? Olive oil it! Spritz your garden tools with olive oil and dirt will not build up on them.

Butter to Olive Oil Conversion Chart

Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon
3/4 Teaspoon
1 Tablespoon
3/4 Tablespoon
1/4 Cup
3 Tablespoons
2/3 Cup
1/2 Cup
3/4 Cup
1/2 Cup PLUS 1 Tablespoon
1 Cup
3/4 Cup
When substituting olive oil for butter, the measurement ratio is 1 to .75

© 2009 wyanjen at HubPages

Extra Virgin Olive Oil - Cook Healthy

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Submit a Comment
  • WD Curry 111 profile image

    WD Curry 111 

    8 years ago from Space Coast

    Until now I thought extra virgin was Baptist olive oil. I am new on Hubs and your set up has given me some good ideas. I know an old Greek that does a table spoon of oil every day.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    nice article

  • wyanjen profile imageAUTHOR

    Jen King 

    9 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan

    If you can make toast, you can make GARLIC toast... and then drizzle it with some EVOO!

  • Tom Cornett profile image

    Tom Cornett 

    9 years ago from Ohio

    Cool hub...will pass it on to my wife..she's the cook. I can make toast though. Thanks! :)

  • wyanjen profile imageAUTHOR

    Jen King 

    9 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan

    Hello Melessa

    Extra virgin olive oil is recommended instead of regular for skin moisturizer, so I would go ahead with the EVOO.

    It has a lower acidity, and it's pure.

    Olive oil that is not labelled "virgin" is a blend of virgin and refined oils. Refined oils have been processed chemically, which affects the acid content.

    Unless the cost is an issue, go with the pure, unprocessed EVOO. :)

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    i find diy hair masks that call for regular olive oil and extra virgin. do you happen to know which one would work better?

  • wyanjen profile imageAUTHOR

    Jen King 

    10 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan

    Hi Carrie!

    Oils do suffer from heat, but also light and contact with the air. So, store tightly capped in a cool dark place.

    I keep my OO in the cupboard above my stove. Not great for exposure to heat, but I use it quickly enough that it doesn't go bad. That's the case with you too I'm sure, because you would definitely know if your oil was going bad on you. If you do notice a problem, simply use a smaller bottle on the stove. You can refill it with fresher oil as you use it and if the heat does damage it, you don't lose the whole bottle at once.


  • carriegoff profile image


    10 years ago from Michigan

    Great information! I love olive oil. Question: does it have a limited shelf life? I keep a glass bottle of regular vegetable oil and one of olive oil on the stove and I'm not sure if the heat will make it go "bad" sooner, although I've never had a problem.


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