REFINED? Not in Olive Oil, unless you aren’t into antioxidants!
Reading Extra Virgin Olive Oil labels can be a bit daunting. To enjoy the health benefits and high antioxidant levels, as well as flavor of extra virgin olive oil, stay away from refined and blended olive oils. As a consumer, it is up to us to do our due diligence regarding what we put into our bodies. No one is regulating extra virgin olive oil like you may think. Unless the olive oil is from a single country, freshly pressed by only mechanical means, and NOT heated or refined, the result is, it’s hard to consider it healthy.
First, why would anyone need to refine olive oil? Some estimate that only about 30 percent of all olive oil production ends at extracting the oil from the olives. This allows producers to use olives that are not in the best condition, and blend oils from a wide variety of sources and countries. This is needed due to the bad tastes resulting from oxidized olives and the mass production processes. When you see “Pure Olive Oil” at the store, or a bottle that reads simply “Olive Oil,” these could and more than likely are found to be refined.
Refining involves using solvents and high heat to neutralize the tastes of non ideal oil.
The “refining” process removes the perfect and beneficial health attributes of olive oil. The high temperatures, stripping gases, thickness of oil layers in the deodorizers, and lengths of the processes, create changes to the quality attributes of the olive oil:
- – remove all natural antioxidants
- – sterols are mostly removed as well as tocopherols
- – increases the content of stigmastadiene which show higher PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon)
So, what is refining?
Refining is a process in which the undesirable compounds of oils are removed, such as: free fatty acids, pigments, gums, unpleasant flavor and odor. Generally, the refining of edible oils and fats is made in two ways: physically and chemically (mostly used).
Physical refining is a simple process in one step using steam stripping at a temperature up to 270 degrees Celsius. Has lower cost and less chemicals are used but the final product is of lower quality.
Chemical refining has four stages:
- Degumming (removal of phospholipids; water and centrifugal separation are used);
- Neutralization (removal of the free fatty acids using caustic soda or sodium carbonate at 205 F);
- Bleaching (removal of color and other constituents);
- Deodorization (at 350- 500 degrees F).
Why put this in your body when “we are what we eat”? Flip the bottle over, make sure the oil is fresh, from a single country and that it is in no way refined. Just because it says Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Olive Oil does not mean it is healthy. It could be a scientific creation, not a tree creation…. and yes it islegal.
Research your brands and stay away from refined oils or oils mixed from varying countries. If the oil is freshly pressed the bottler should know exactly which country the oil came from and its natural acidity level. In addition, If the oil is massed produced the oils are normally from different countries and are not as fresh, as they have been stored, bought, put on a tanker ship and taken a tour of the world, moved, stored again, and ultimately bottled when a production order comes in. Sometimes the label owner or brand owner sources the oil from other “holding” companies, or commodity olive oil, and bids out the oil at the cheapest purchase price, which is more than likely the end result of blended oils and refined oils…. to bring down the costs for mass brand purchasers.
Consider spending the extra couple of bucks to ensure you receive the antioxidants and flavors you deserve.