Read the Label: The 411 on Olive Oil


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

Have you taken a look at your olive oil label lately? Cold-pressed, organic, light olive oil. Extra-virgin olive oil. Expeller-pressed organic oil. What do all those terms mean?

The folks at Gourmè Mist, a line of oil and vinegar spritzers, shared a glossary of oil terms with us.

Oils Defined

Ever wonder about the difference between expeller pressed or cold pressed oil? Or how about organic oil versus natural oil? Well, there is no longer a need to wonder, we are here to clarify those sometimes confusing terms you find on the label.

Expeller Pressed - Chemical free, mechanical extraction of oils from nuts or seeds. No outside heat is added, however, the harder the nut or seed the more friction is created and the hotter the process.

Cold Pressed - Expeller pressed in a temperature controlled environment. Temperatures are controlled to stay below 120 degrees F. This method is used on more delicate oils to help retain flavor.

Organic Oil - Must contain at least 95% organic ingredients. This means the ingredients were grown without conventional pesticides or artificial fertilizers. Additionally, the organic manufacturer can become certified and use the USDA seal.

Natural Oil - Nothing artificial added (there is still controversy on the definition of artificial). Our recommendation is to look at the label to make sure the ingredients are familiar, such as just olive oil in olive oil.

Virgin vs. Extra Virgin, what’s the difference?

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil - is made by the first pressing of the olive fruit using the cold pressing process and has less tha 1% acidity. Extra-virgin oils are typically more expensive and with their rich flavor should be saved for enjoying right out of the bottle.

Virgin Olive Oil - is made using riper olives and is also cold pressed. It is a low-grade extra-virgin olive oil and has a higher acidity of 1 1/2%. This oil is better used in cooking.

Refined Olive Oil - is refined virgin olive oil and is tasteless. The acidity level is higher than 3.3%.

Pure Olive Oil or Olive Oil - is made from the second cold pressing or chemical extraction. It is lighter in color and taste than virgin and is considered an all purpose olive oil.

Light and Extra Light Olive Oil - is a mixture of refined olive oils made from the lowest quality olive oils through chemical processing. The term “light” does not refer to the calories.

Gourmè Mist's pure and imported oils and vinegars come in six varieties: organic extra virgin olive oil, organic canola oil, natural extra virgin olive oil, Barrel Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, Balsamic Vinegar of Modena infused with pomegranate, and Balsamic Vinegar of Modena infused with raspberry.

What kind of oil do you use at home?

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  • 111
    EVOO is Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 2/23/2011   12:34:23 AM
  • DBH222
    Could someone tell me what Evoo oil is. I''m from Canada and I have never seen this oil anywhere. - 7/7/2010   8:38:33 PM
  • 109
    EVOO,, always,, love it for dipping with my spices.. makes the best Greek dressing for Greek salad!! Yummers! - 10/27/2009   3:54:47 PM
  • 108
    I am a Greek living in Greece, so for me there has never been anything else but Extra Virgin Olive oil!! Occasionally, Sunflower oil for homemade Mayo and for frying potatoes -once in 10 days max. - 10/13/2009   3:35:36 AM
    i didn't know that about light olive oil - 6/17/2009   12:34:09 AM
  • 106
    I use EVOO when sauteing or adding to baking mixes. When it comes to frying, which is rarely, I use what I grew up on....the politcally incorrect peanut oil. - 3/11/2009   4:16:38 PM
  • 105
    I grew up in a Greek household, so we always used Olive Oil. Today I get my most olive oil from a local grower - Olivina. There are several award winning varieties, I use when I am either dressing a salad, want the true taste of olive oil to come thru in my cooking, or make dipping oil [I make my own blend]. I use a store bought version for everything else - less aromatic taste -. I even use it in cakes. - 3/10/2009   5:48:54 AM
    This was a very informative article. I really appriciate the info. As for my family we use canola oil for the most part, but here recently started to use olive oil. - 2/28/2009   1:02:36 AM
  • 103
    Extra Virgin Olive and Canola depending... - 2/25/2009   1:22:25 AM
  • 102
    I use EVOO on the whole but also use sunflower seed oil and a blend of 4 oils for salads. In France it is a custom to vary the oils because each has its own particular goodness. - 2/24/2009   5:48:03 AM
  • 101
    I think our kitchen must have to largest variety of oils. We use Extra Virgin olive straight up on salads & pasta. We use the olive oil for low temp veg saute` and bread baking recipes. Canola as general purpose cooking and baking. Peanut oil for stir fire, we have a fifth high temp burner with wok ring. DH loves his sesame oil, both light and dark for a boost of flavor. DH has no weight problem! The oil must fit the task (heat), add the right flavor while not taking over the dish. - 2/23/2009   10:03:47 AM
    This is an even better report telling the truth about canola oil

    Found on
    - 2/19/2009   8:31:29 PM
    I have to agree with camanofish. Checkout this site I included - 2/19/2009   7:23:06 PM
    I am sorry to disagree with you pammythai. I am not trying to create an argument. But, as far as URBAN LEGEND, there might have been an email hoax sent out. But, that has nothing to do with the real facts about Canola oil. I do know that I have been reading, researching and have asked a list of nature paths and nutritionist over the years about it. One of them is on a local radio station in our area. He is very credited. The info you say about Canola oil and where it gets it's name from is true. Except it is the companies that manufacture it that claim it is not toxic because of the lower acidity. The rapeseed it also a genetically altered seed. It is not legal in Europe because of that. You can also verify that if you like. I believe, have read and been told that it is better to stick to oil that come from safe seeds and fruits such as olives, grape, coconut etc....that are not genetically altered.
    I think if anyone really is concerned about their health they should google "where does canola oil come from" or any other catch phrase and find out for themselves. I don't think they should take my word or anyone elses. Canola oil is controversial and opinions differ. Find out the facts for yourself, then there is no confusion. - 2/19/2009   2:54:31 PM
    i seldom fry my food but when i do i usually use evoo, but i see i should be using voo, does it really matter? - 2/19/2009   12:19:16 PM
  • 96
    There is no need to be concerned about Canola Oil being toxic or bad for you. That simply isn't true and was an email hoax that was propagated some time ago. Check it out on urban legends and you will see it is false. "Canola" oil --the name is a shortened form of "Canadian Oil with Less Acid," because it is made from the Rapeseed, but Rapeseed Oil in its purest form can be toxic to humans because of its high acid content. But canoLA, even in its name, has "less acid" and is therefore a really good all-around cooking/ baking oil.... except of course when we want the special pleasure and taste of EVOO. Just wanted to clear up these misconceptions about Canola Oil.... - 2/19/2009   8:05:19 AM
  • 95
    I have always used extra light because I never liked a heavy taste, I knew it had something to do with the pressings but I had no idea it could have other oils or be a "mixture" of oils, interesting - 2/19/2009   7:04:44 AM
    extra virgin olive oil is what I use all the time. - 2/18/2009   11:48:45 PM
    FYI....try googling "where does canola oil come from" will be surprised! - 2/18/2009   8:46:35 PM
    I use extra-virgin olive oil hands down. Coming from a Greek family on my mothers side, that is all we used growing up and my grandmother emphasized how important it was to use first, cold pressed olive oil. Consequently, there has been no history of heart disease or high cholesterol in our family. Also, I always used these oils when I was pregnant, along with nuts. My babies were born with beautiful skin and hair. I have two daughters that have had five babies between them and they consumed these oils along nuts while pregnant. They also added flax to their diet. Their babies were also born with beautiful skin and hair. These good oils also are great for brain development.
    It is important not to use high heat with any kind of olive oil. It changes the chemical composition and it becomes toxic. So, I use grape seed, coconut, peanut or palm oils for high heat cooking like stir frying. They are all healthy oils. For years coconut, peanut and palm oils were given a bad rap. I have always believed it was political and about money. Hydrogenated fat was so much cheaper. So, I just kept using them anyway and I have been using them since the seventies. My husband and myself are in our late fifties and neither one of us struggle with bad cholesterol, heart problems or high blood pressure, even though on my husbands side there is a great history of heart disease. I have to believe that using these healthy oils have helped. Also, research is now coming out in the main media proclaiming benefits to coconut, peanut and palm oils.
    I have always been very strict about staying away from vegetable, hydrogenated and canola oil. Canola oil is derived from rape seed and is chemically altered in the processing. It is as harmful to us as hydrogenated fats are.
    I hope I don't sound like a "know it all". But, I have been researching this stuff since I was in high school, as well as listening to information on oils from a long list of alternative care providers since the early seventies. Like I said, it has paid off with our health as far as our good veins, good cholesterol readings and no heart problems for our age. You can google and research this info.
    - 2/18/2009   8:41:11 PM
  • 91
    I have EVOO and Walnut oil in my cabinets. I usually have peanut oil or canola oil, too, but I seem to be out at the moment! LOL. I usually use EVOO, mostly when sauteeing and stir-frying (only 1-2 T.) but now I understand that I should use OO for that. I will change! I also have some vegetable oil in my cabinet, but I honestly don't think I've touched it for YEARS! (Gotta get rid of that stuff!) I use spray Canola oil when I want to keep something from sticking to my bakeware or skillets. - 2/18/2009   9:28:31 AM
  • FIT4ME365
    Sometimes I use Evo, but I mostly use olive oil or extra virgin olive oil. I try to buy it on sale or at discount retailers, such as Big Lots. - 2/17/2009   4:44:51 PM
  • MISSY758
    I use EVOO but I don't use a lot of oil in my cooking. - 2/17/2009   4:24:15 PM
    I use EVOO and olive oil cooking spray. - 2/17/2009   2:06:39 PM
  • 87
    Mostly EVOO. We use it for just about everything. I even get the mayo and margarine and cooking spray made with olive oil. I always have one bottle that I shove cloves of garlic into for extra "yum" factor. - 2/17/2009   11:52:04 AM
  • IGIRL66
    THANK YOU for this! I've used olive oil for years (extra virgin when I can afford a "splurge") but I've always been uncertain about "which kind" is the healthiest choice. This is a great concise guide! - 2/17/2009   9:23:28 AM
    Extra virgin Olive Oil. I considered that it would be best for my cooking but also my system. - 2/17/2009   9:22:59 AM
  • 84
    I use cooking spray, canola oil, and olive oil. - 2/17/2009   9:07:02 AM
  • JUDYANN069
    Thanks for the info. I didn't know that evoo could be toxic when heated. I used it for stir-frying but I will change that to reg olive oil or canola oil. Thanks agin for the article - 2/17/2009   7:49:27 AM
  • 82
    I like using coconut oil. - 2/17/2009   2:07:56 AM
    I use extra virgin olive oil, also the spray form. For baking, I use canola oil. - 2/16/2009   10:25:44 PM
  • 80
    EVOO, Canola for higher heat cooking, and sometimes sesame oil. - 2/16/2009   10:21:20 PM
    I only use olive oil , I liked this article. - 2/16/2009   10:10:40 PM
  • 78
    Just EVOO for me. - 2/16/2009   9:33:45 PM
  • 77
    I use different ones. Olive oil (not too picky what kind) and canola or other vegetable oil. - 2/16/2009   7:35:01 PM
  • 76
    I use extra virgin. But...which of these should we be using for everyday use? Cooking, etc.? It's unclear from the article. - 2/16/2009   7:22:53 PM
  • 75
    I use extra virgin olive oil and occasionally canola oil if I need a lighter taste for cooking. - 2/16/2009   7:03:59 PM
  • 74
    I always use EVOO when using olive oil. I was always taught it was "the best" and I don't see anything wrong with using it for cooking also. - 2/16/2009   5:56:25 PM
  • 73
    I use EVOO or Canola, depending on what I'm making. - 2/16/2009   5:44:38 PM
  • 72
    Thanks for the great info! I usually use EVOO for salads and a few other things but didn't realize that it wasn't good for cooking! - 2/16/2009   5:41:33 PM
  • 71
    I use EVOO from the Tuscany region for salads and Virgin OO for cooking - 2/16/2009   3:33:55 PM
  • 70
    I use EVOO when using for flavor and canola when cooking - 2/16/2009   3:02:53 PM
  • 69
    always use EVOO !! - 2/16/2009   2:54:50 PM
    I only use EVOO that's first cold pressed.

    The article missed one distinction. High quality extra virgin olive oil should be "first cold pressed". But, I have seen some brands of EVOO that are not first cold pressed. You have to read the label carefully. Some manufacturers will try to fool you.

    I pay extra for olive oil that has been first cold pressed. there are some really wonderful artisan brands that aren't organic. Whole Foods has a wonderful selection of imported olive oils at reasonable prices. I've tried from great olive oils from Italy, Spain and Greece.

    - 2/16/2009   12:50:52 PM
  • 67
    Forgot to mention: George from World's Healthiest foods mentions never to use EVOO for frying or heating at high temperatures. At his site the video is available he showed on media what happens to EVOO that was heated by actually heating the green oil which turned to colorless and fumes that came up, are toxic and generated toxins that we would be eating, unhealthy for our bodies. He was dead against heating up EVOO. I am not an expert on this, however, I do like to believe and listen to the experts. - 2/16/2009   12:45:59 PM
  • 66
    Thanks much for the 411 on olive oil. It can be confusing as it was for me. So, I followed my natural doctor's suggestion of using cold pressed EVOO only in salads, buying the best of it! For cooking, I used the Olive oils ( virgin or evoo as claimed) that are sold in 101+ ozs. of large tins. Most of the time when we do fry something, we use either pure vegetable oil or planin olive oil, depending upon what I do carry in my pantry that was purchased on a sale. - 2/16/2009   12:41:20 PM
    I use EVOO for just about everything. I don't fry much and when I do, I use canola oil. For sauteeing, I like the EVOO because cooking at low heat, it doesn't smoke and it doesn't lose that distinctive flavor.

    A little bit of EVOO goes a long way, which is another thing I like about it. It may be more expensive per ounce, but I find that I use a lot less of it which helps my pocket book, my taste buds, and my waistline! - 2/16/2009   12:33:10 PM
  • 64
    Thanks I use evoo when needed.. - 2/16/2009   12:23:44 PM
  • 63
    EVOO for some things canola for most things. - 2/16/2009   12:22:02 PM
  • 62
    I've been influenced by Rachael Ray....I buy EVOO! LOL! - 2/16/2009   12:18:52 PM

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