Virgin or Extra-Virgin: What’s the Difference?

by stacie on May 7, 2021

When it comes to cooking, I use one of three things: olive oil, safflower oil, or coconut oil.

I know they’re healthy options, I know they’re tasty in my food (especially the coconut oil in homemade waffles), and I also know that there’s a lot of options.

Particularly when it comes to olive oil. There’s straight olive oil, virgin, extra-virgin, cold-pressed … the list goes on and on.

The most common varieties are obviously virgin and extra-virgin. But what’s the difference?

One difference is in quality; virgin is a slightly lower quality that extra-virgin. Both are tasty when it comes to things like dunking bread, dribbling it over foods, and making salad dressings.

When heated, the taste and aroma of the olive oil loses its flavor and but many chefs still prefer to cook with either virgin or extra-virgin, despite its higher-quality and bigger price tag.

So where does “regular” olive oil come in? Olive oil comes in to play if the pressed oil is highly acidic or not of great quality, it will be refined and mixed with the virgin or extra-virgin varieties to make the “regular” olive oil. This is what most of us “regular” cooks use in our home kitchens and it seems to work out just fine.

Regardless of what type you choose, the heart-healthy benefits are almost all the same; however, virgin and extra-virgin have extra antioxidants.

photo credit: rob poulos


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  • Ruby T.

    We cook more now with canola oil and grapeseed oil since both don’t become carcinogens at higher temperatures and are low in fat.

  • Aimee

    While living in Spain I learned that you should keep your olive oil in a cool and dark place so that it stays fresh and doesn’t oxidize so quickly!

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