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Myth #5: Pure olive oil is better than extra-virgin olive oil

It may sound better, but the reverse is actually true.

Pure olive oil is mostly refined olive oil with a little extra-virgin olive oil added back in for smell and taste. A refined olive oil is made from olive oil that does not meet international standards for consumption and would otherwise be put to other (non-food-related) uses. It undergoes various processes to help remove any off-putting odors or flavors and, as a result, loses free fatty acids and what is called the "unsaponifiable fraction" — the portion of olive oil that contains antioxidants. (The term comes from the fact that it cannot be turned into soap.)

Extra-virgin olive oil, on the other hand, is the highest grade of olive oil and what can be thought of as the "purest" form, with various antioxidants and phenols that confer numerous health benefits.

It sounds like there isn't much of a reason to ever buy pure olive oil, but that's not quite true. Removing the "unsaponifiable fraction" raises the smoke point and allows you to use high-temperature cooking methods, like frying, safely (as mentioned before). And, the fatty acid profile of the olive oil remains intact — high in monounsaturated fats (typically about 70 percent of the total fat content) which help raise levels of HDL (the "good" cholesterol) and low in saturated fats. Refined olive oil also goes by the name "light," "extra-light," and just "olive oil."

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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