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Are All Olive Oils Healthy or Just Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

Written By: Byron | May 29, 2024


f you’re reading this, you probably already know that olive oil is good for you and that extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is the healthiest of them all. Are All Olive Oils Healthy or Just Extra Virgin Olive Oil? With the skyrocketing price of olive oils this year (2024), I thought it’s worth exploring other oil varieties that are also healthy.

Let’s look at the five olive oil varieties, what health benefits they offer, and their flavor profile.

Are all olive oils healthy cover image

5 Types of Olive Oil

Here are the 5 types of olive oil and a brief description of their associated health benefits.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

EVOO is the highest quality and least processed olive oil. It’s extracted from the first pressing of the olives without the use of heat or chemicals, retaining its natural antioxidants and vitamins. It’s usually the strongest in flavor. EVOO is rich in monounsaturated fats and contains potent antioxidants like polyphenols, which have been linked to numerous health benefits. 

There have been hundreds, if not thousands of studies about the correlation between EVOO and health benefits. The results show that regular consumption of EVOO can reduce the risk of heart disease, lower inflammation, and improve cholesterol levels, among other benefits. If you’re hooked on EVOO, here are 7 of the best extra virgin olive oils (2024)

Virgin Olive Oil

Virgin olive oil is also derived from the first pressing of the olives but has slightly higher acidity and less intense flavor compared to EVOO. While it may not boast the same antioxidant levels as EVOO, virgin olive oil still contains beneficial monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. It’s a good option for cooking at moderate temperatures and adds a delicate flavor to dishes.

Pure Olive Oil

Often labeled as “olive oil” or “pure olive oil,” this type is a blend of refined olive oil and virgin or extra virgin olive oil. Refined olive oil undergoes processing to remove impurities and flaws, resulting in a milder taste and higher smoke point compared to virgin oils. While it may lack the robust flavor and some health benefits of extra virgin varieties, pure olive oil still provides healthy monounsaturated fats and can be used for cooking and baking.

Light Olive Oil

Despite its name, “light” olive oil doesn’t refer to reduced calories or fat content. Instead, it signifies a lighter flavor and color obtained through filtering and processing. Light olive oil has a higher smoke point than extra virgin varieties, making it suitable for high-heat cooking methods like frying. While it may not offer the same nutritional punch as extra virgin olive oil, it’s still a healthier alternative to many other cooking oils.

Refined Olive Oil

Refined olive oil undergoes extensive processing, including heat and chemical treatments, to remove impurities and flaws. While this process strips away much of the olive flavor and antioxidants, refined olive oil still contains predominantly monounsaturated fats, making it a healthier option than many refined oils. It’s often used in commercial food production and can withstand high temperatures without breaking down.

A few olives sit beside a bottle of olive oil.

Why is the Price of Olive Oil so High?

Let’s face it, olive oil wasn’t cheap to begin with. But, it has doubled in price over the past year; how much of that cost is passed onto consumers varies but it’s being felt worldwide! 

There are a few reasons that are impacting the price of Olive Oil globally.

Reduced Production

Severe weather conditions in the 3 main olive oil-producing countries (Spain, Italy, and Greece) have drastically affected the output supply of olive oil. Southern Spain (the largest olive oil growing region globally) is experiencing a second year of drought, where approximately 70 percent of the country’s olive groves are not irrigated. 

Consequently, drought and extreme weather conditions have caused the output of the world’s largest olive oil supplier to plummet. Olive oil production has fallen short for two consecutive years. Production estimates range from 680,000 to 755,000 tons for the 2023/24 crop year, compared to over 1.4 million tonnes harvested in 2022

Energy Costs

Rising energy costs caused by conflicts in neighboring European countries have also added to the production cots of olive oil both in Europe and globally. 

Consumer Trend

High Olive oil prices have seen a change in the consumer trend for purchasing olive oil. With the top-tier EVOO products feeling the pinch the most, many customers are in search of cheaper olive oils. 

While demand for good quality olive oils remains steady in Europe, customers are purchasing smaller quantities weekly instead of monthly. The cost of olive oil has impacted consumer purchasing trends in the USA, Canada, China, the UK, and Australia. The world market of olive oil has seen prices increase from EUR600 per 100 kilos in 2023 to almost EUR1000 per 100 kilos in 2024.

How Much Does Olive Oil Cost in 2024?

This depends on where you are buying your olive oil, but here in Spain, we have seen extra virgin olive oil increase from around EUR 5 per liter in 2023 to well over EUR 11 per liter at the time of writing this article (May 2024). 

Here is a snapshot of the World Olive Oil Market with comparisons to the previous year: 

  • Spain – €7.1/kg the week commencing April 8, 2024, an increase of 36% on the same period of the previous crop year.
  • Italy – €9.68/kg the week commencing April 1, 2024, an increase of 60%.
  • Greece – €7.4/kg the week commencing April 8, an increase of 51%.
Export unit value graph of olive oil.

The Verdict: Are All Olive Oils Healthy?

While extra virgin olive oil reigns supreme in terms of health benefits and flavor, other types of olive oil also have their place in a balanced diet. Whether you’re drizzling EVOO over a salad or using light olive oil for stir-frying, incorporating various olive oils into your cooking can provide a range of flavors and nutritional benefits.

So, the next time you reach for that bottle of olive oil, remember that whether it’s extra virgin, virgin, or refined, each type offers its own unique blend of health-promoting properties. Embrace the diversity of olive oils and savor the goodness they bring to your culinary creations and your well-being.

Recipes Where Olive Oil Shines

If reading about olive oil has made you want some right now, here are some recipes where olive oil really shines:

A plate of tomato salad sits beside some pistachio nuts and a glass of red wine.


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