Currently Spain produces around 36% of the worlds olive oil, followed by Italy with 25% and Greece with 18%. (“Produces” is a relative term as many olives are sent to these countries from surrounding countries to be pressed and bottled in Italy (Greece or Spain) to obtain a “Made in Italy” label. A much smaller % is actually grown, harvested, pressed, bottled and available for mass sales from these countries.) The other 21% includes Australia, Brazil, Chili, South America and California- Go USA! Many of our California based Olive Oils are bringing home Gold and Silver medals from International competitions – beating out Italian, Greek, Moroccan and Spanish Olive Oils in both chemistry (think health benefits) and taste!
There are 4 main grades of Olive Oil:
1. Extra Virgin: Olives are picked and cold pressed. The juice that comes out is Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It is high in nutrients, color and has a very flavorful taste. BELLA BALSAMIC &THE PRESSED OLIVE SELLS ONLY ULTRA PREMIUM CERTIFIED EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OILS
*Ultra Premiums exceed the standards for Extra Virgin! If Extra Virgin Olives Oils were in High School and they were your 4.0 students, Ultra Premiums would be the Valedictorian’s of the class!
2. Virgin: Olives are put into a second press, sometimes heat is added to extract more oil (heat destroys nutrients). The resulting second press oil is called Virgin. It has medium nutrition, a lighter color and less flavors.
3. Pure: Olives are gathered up and heat and chemicals (which also deplete nutrients) are added to extract even more oil. This press is called pure. This oil retains only trace amounts of nutrition, color and flavors.
4. Refined: Refined oils are what is left after “pure”, which, along with the rotten,bug and rodent infested olives, are sent to a refinery, processed with HIGH heat and LOTS of chemicals (including Lye) so all traces of mold, mildew, bacteria, flavor, color and nutrition are removed. These oils are then mixed with other processed oils (soybean, canola, corn, etc). What you are left with is the colorless, odorless, flavorless (and nutrition-less) dead oil most Americans think is Olive Oil. A small portion of Extra Virgin Olive Oil may be added back in, and the resulting product gets labeled “Extra Virgin Olive Oil”, packed in gallon jugs and sent to America to be sold in big name stores! Why? Because there are no FDA regulations currently and no-one checks!! (Read “Extra Virginity- The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil” by Tom Mueller for more in depth information. )
More Technical Information:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)includes at least 9 different categories of polyphenols (antioxidants) and more than 2 dozen well researched anti inflammatory nutrients. In heart patients, EVOO has been determined to lower blood levels of C-reactive proteins (CRP). Thanks to its status in the Mediterranean diet, and extensive research on its unique phytonutrient composition, EVOO has become a legendary culinary oil with very difficult to match health benefits. Among its extensive list of phytonutrients, no single category of nutrients is more important than its polyphenols. The polyphenol count of our delicious oils are truly amazing!!
Some additional benefits of EVOO
* Contains 75% Oleic Acid (monounsaturated Omega-9 fatty acid)
* Decreases total blood cholesterol
* Decreases blood pressure
* Decreases oxidative stess in the blood
* Decreases inflammation
* Decreases blood platelet clumping
* Decreases LDL
* Increases bone formation
* Increases cognitive benefits
* Increases fat loss
* Contains cancer fighting benefits