What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

Olive oil is obtained from the fruit of the olive tree (Olea europaea, family Oleaceae), a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean region. Whole olives are pressed to produce this distinctive oil.

Wild olives were collected by Neolithic peoples as early as 8,000 BC. Olive trees were first domesticated in Asia Minor in 6,000 BC with the first olive oil produced in 4,000 BC.

Today, most of the olive oil in the world is still produced in Europe, with Spain being the largest producer. About 50% of the total world production of olive oil is produced in Spain. It also has obtained 57% of the total international awards.

About 50% of the total world production of olive oil is produced in Spain

Nanako olive oil production

How is olive oil produced? Source: EUFIC (European Union food information council)

Types of Olive Oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) – extracted by mechanically cold pressing, it´s the highest quality olive oil, <0.8% acidity

Virgin Olive Oil (VOO) – extracted by mechanically cold pressing, 0.8–2.0% acidity

Refined Olive Oil – chemically processed from poor quality olive oil (lampante usually), <1% acidity

Pomace Olive Oil – chemically processed using olive pulp (what is left after cold pressing olives), <1% acidity

Blends (chemically processed & cold pressed) e.g. “Pure Olive Oil”, “Olive Oil”, “Med Olive Oil”, etc.

Nanako Olives to Oil

Olives to oil: the process for producing the different types of olive oils.

Active components in Extra Virgin Olive Oil

makes EVOO different are the active components present. Here is a list of the main active components and some of their related health benefits are:

  • Polyphenols including hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol, and oleuropein (over 20 different types of these antioxidants) have strong antioxidant activity and antimicrobial activity
    • Squalene, identified as having anticancer effects
    • Oleocanthal, an anti-inflammatory antioxidant
    • Oleuropein, an antioxidant substance that protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation.
  • Oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid, cancer prevention
  • Other benefits of polyphenols include colon and breast cancer prevention, coronary heart disease (CHD), ability to reduce blood pressure and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol while enhancing the function of HDL “good” cholesterol.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil really shines with its high content of antioxidants, strongly associated with protecting our body against disease and ageing.

Health and medical benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Nanako health and medical benefits of extra virgin olive oil

Overall health and medical benefits of EVOO for the human boday.

Nanako extra virgin olive oil benefist in the med diet

The health benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the Med Diet. Source: Bioactive Compounds and Quality of Extra Virgin Olive Oil by C. Jimenez-Lopez et al, 28Jul20, Foods Aug20.

The health benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the Mediterranean Diet include:

  • Antimicrobial properties
  • Prevention of oxidative stress
  • Digestive system
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Reduction of the risk of neurodegenerative diseases
  • Osteoporosis
  • Lowering immunological parameters
  • Glucose metabolism
  • Blood pressure
  • Antitumour properties
  • Prevents platelet aggregation
  • Lipid metabolism

Nutritional value of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra Virgin Olive oil is very high in monounsaturated fats and also contains vitamins E and K. It is also loaded with antioxidants (polyphenols as mentioned above), some of which have powerful health benefits such as fighting inflammation, protecting against heart disease and chronic disease. It is also associated with an increased lifespan when combined with a healthy diet such as the Mediterranean diet and regular exercise.

A tablespoon (about 15 grams) of Extra Virgin Olive Oil contains the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 119
  • Saturated fat: 14% of total calories
  • Monounsaturated fat (MUFA): 73% of total calories (mostly oleic acid)
  • Polyunsaturated fat (PUFA): 11% of total calories
  • Vitamin E: 13% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin K: 7% of the Daily Value (DV)
Nanako Nutritional Value of sierra prieta extra virgin olive oil
Typical Nutritional Information for Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Source: Nanako.

Storage recommendations

Nanako extra virgin olive oil storage
HEAT Store olive oil away from major heat source like stoves or ovensOXYGEN Store olive oil in a sealed bottle as air exposure causes oxidationLIGHT Store olive oil away from windows and lightingAGE Shelf life of olive oil is no more than 2 years after bottling
The 4 key considerations when storing Extra Virgin Olive Oil: HOLA.

For Extra Virgin Olive Oil storage, avoid HEAT, OXYGEN, LIGHT & AGE (HOLA).

MOISTURE and BACTERIA are also not good for olive.  

The “BEST BY” or “BEST BEFORE” date for Extra Virgin Olive Oil is typically 18-24 months. Note that EVOO will still be safe to consumer even after the Best By (which is why EVOO does not have an Expiration Date) however after long periods of time it will slowly become rancid.

RECOMMENDATION FOR STORAGE: Store in a sealed bottle in a cool, dry, dark place and use within a few months of opening the bottle.

See also our Extra Virgin Olive Oil brochure for more details on regular as well as organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

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