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Touted as the nectar of the gods, how do you choose the right olive oil for your use? The degree of acid and the method of extraction determine the different types. Higher quality oils have a lower acid content.

  • Extra virgin comes from the first pressing of the olives, known as cold-pressed. It has 1% acid and ranges in color from champagne to greenish-gold to bright green. The deeper the color, the more intense the olive flavor. This oil is more expensive and has a very low smoking point. It is best used in salads and foods that don’t require heat.
  • Virgin olive oil has 1-3% acid and is also from first-pressed olives. Use it for low temperature cooking.
  • Fino (fine) olive oil is a blend of extra virgin and virgin olive oils.
  • Light indicates color and fragrance. Light has the same amount of calories as other varieties. Because of its negligible olive flavor and higher smoking point, this oil is great for cooking, baking, and frying.

The US government does not regulate label information for olive oils. Labels with North American Olive Oil Association assure the product meets standards of the industry. The following applies to all types of olive oils.

  • Storage:          Store in a cool dark place for up to 6 months. You can refrigerate for one year, but it will turn cloudy. Cloudiness dissipates when the oil is left at room temperature.
  • Nutrition:       Most people know olive oil is healthier than other vegetable oils. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats which may help reduce the risks of heart disease by lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) and increasing good cholesterol (HDL). All types of olive oil contain about 45-50 calories per teaspoon.

Choose the olive oil most suited for your use and flavor, and then enjoy this nectar of the gods for better health.

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