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Selo Olive Oil

Are Cheap Extra Virgin Olive Oils Worth Buying? The Ugly Truth

Are Cheap Extra Virgin Olive Oils Worth Buying? The Ugly Truth

Extra virgin olive oil, a.k.a EVOO, is a vegetable oil valued for its many health benefits. These benefits come from olives, which are great for heart and bone health.

All this goodness of olives goes into extra virgin olive oil. Unfortunately, there are many counterfeit or adulterated EVOO brands in the market. These olive oils comprise low-grade olive oil and oils such as soybean or fish oil that degrade them.

So if you buy olive oil at the grocery store, there is a high chance that it may not be pure extra virgin olive oil. Where do you get real EVOO, and how do you tell it apart from the cheap, Extra virgin Olive Oils in the market? By finding out how to identify high-quality extra virgin olive oil.

What Is Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)?    

Your search for authentic extra virgin olive oil should start with knowing what sets it apart from regular olive oil. 

The difference between extra virgin olive oil and standard olive oil is that the latter is processed using heat or chemicals and also with some nutritional values of the olive oil. 

In contrast, EVOO is made from freshly milled olives harvested within the last 24 hours. This oil is extracted mechanically to avoid destroying its nutrients with chemicals or heat. 

You may think of EVOO as fresh olive juice packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy monounsaturated fatty acids.

Here’s a table we made in which you can see how much of some specific ingredients extra virgin olive oil should have:

Parameter

Meas. Unit

Max. Allowed Value

Free fatty acids

%

≤ 0.8

Peroxides

mEq O2/kg

≤ 20

K232

-

≤ 2.50

K270

-

≤ 0.22

Delta - K

-

≤ 0,01

Palmitic acid

g/100g

7.5 to 20.0

Oleic acid

g/100g

55.0 to 83.0

Linoleic acid

g/100g

3.5 to 21.0

Linolenic acid

g/100g

≤ 1

The Problem With Cheap Extra Virgin Olive Oils

Cheap EVOO producers sell substandard oils instead of high-quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) because they can't cover the cost of production or get the high-quality olives needed to produce them. But are they that bad?

Yes. Here are factors that make cheap EVOO not worth buying.

They are camouflaged with color or packaging

Most cheap EVOOs on supermarket shelves are green-colored vegetable oils or regular olive oil. These low-quality olive oils are from brands that think it costs too much to produce real EVOO.

They choose to produce olive oil by blending very little EVOO with inferior vegetable oils, or lower-quality olive oils. These low-quality EVOOs are then packaged in dark bottles with appealing labels that make it hard to notice they are not pure extra virgin olive oil.

Some oil producers also add substances such as chlorophyll to regular olive oil to make it smell or look similar to EVOO, giving it a strange color and aroma.

They lack quality certification

Substandard extra virgin olive oils are refined instead of cold-pressed from fresh olives. Most cheap EVOOs are also made from olives farmed with lots of chemicals. These harmful substances find their way into the oil pressed from them.

That means low-quality EVOOs do not have certifications such as Extra Virgin Alliance (EVA) and International Olive Council (IOC) that high-quality olive oils are awarded.

Therefore, they are unlikely to give you the health or flavor benefits of using pure, high-quality, extra virgin olive oil such as our Selo Extra Virgin Croatian Olive Oil.

They are produced in unhygienic surroundings

Some counterfeit olive oil producers use production processes that expose oil to contaminants like dirt and mold. Others store their olive oil in inadequate storage facilities, making it rancid due to air, light, or heat exposure.

While you can cook with these oils, they may cause stomach aches because they are rancid or adulterated with low-quality oils. On the other hand, cooking with real EVOO is great

So even if you see cheap bottles of genuine extra virgin olive oil on grocery store shelves, many of them are health hazards. And those not harmful to your health lack the authentic color, taste, or smell of real EVOO.

They contain allergy-inducing ingredients

Cheap EVOO is often mixed with other types of oils that give it a funny rancid taste. 

The seed oils in these cheap EVOOs not only alter their taste but also make counterfeit EVOO potentially allergenic to people suffering from seed allergies.

How To Spot Low-Quality Olive Oils

The things that can help you to tell high-quality olive oil apart from low-quality olive oil are;

Taste

Low-quality olive oil doesn't have a taste you can pinpoint; instead, it feels greasy or rancid on the tongue. It leaves a taste at the back of your mouth that's unpleasant to the palate.

Color

Cheap extra virgin olive oil is very often strangely colored. It's either too green or a pale yellow color that you see in most vegetable oils.

There are also poor-quality olive oils that are amber in color, which is a tell-tale sign they were processed from over-ripe olives.

Packaging

Low-quality olive oil is usually packaged in clear bottles that let in light which deteriorates it. There are also low-quality EVOOs sold in plastic containers that release toxic compounds into them.

Labelling

Cheap EVOO is labeled light, pure, or virgin with the EXTRA left out to indicate it's processed or not of a quality that you can refer to as Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Ingredients

Authentic and high-quality EVOO is made from single-origin olive fruits. In contrast, low-quality EVOO is made using inferior olives or overripe olives from multiple countries, which gives the oil you get from them a strange flavor.

Freshness

The highest quality extra virgin olive oil is from recently harvested olives that are pressed as soon as they are picked and milled. But cheap EVOO is usually low-grade, chemically-refined olive oil pressed from old, leftover, or substandard olives.

FFA percentage

One thing that sets apart high-quality extra virgin olive oil from cheap EVOO is the free fatty acid (FFA) content. This is the amount of oleic acid in every 100 gms of oil. 

EVOO only contains 0.8 percent or fewer FFAs (check the table above) because it is mechanically produced by cold-pressing the best olives. That's quite different from refined oils that contain high levels of FFA. 

So if you see a higher percentage of FFAs quoted on a bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, don't buy it. It's low-quality olive oil with a noticeable acid flavor that's unpleasant to the palate and your health.

Some cheaper extra virgin olive oils will have FFA levels in the normal range, but other values will be too low or too high. That’s why it’s important to consider all the factors when determining whether olive oil is good or not.

Consistency

Sub-standard EVOO has a thin consistency because it's processed from leftover olives with little oil in them.

That's quite different from the heavy, thick feel of quality EVOO extracted from the first press of olives that have just been harvested and milled.

Cost

Low-quality extra virgin olive oil is usually very cheap or overpriced compared to its authentic versions.

A 500 ml bottle of quality EVOO should cost at least $8-12. Anything lower may be a sign that the olive oil in question is from unscrupulous, low-quality olive oil merchants.

Conclusion: Is Spending Money On Cheap EVOO Worth It?

No! Buying low-quality or cheap natural oils is counterproductive. These oils cost more than they should, even if you feel they are moderately priced. That's because they give you less value in terms of their nutritional content and lack the authentic taste of olives that you get from fresh olives.

Cheap olive oils will also not give your body the health benefits you require or add the flavor you desire to your food. So, the next time you buy olive oil, don't pick the one with the best-looking label; choose a brand with a reputation for producing the freshest, organic, cold-pressed EVOO.

We highly recommend you check out our extra virgin olive oil, an extremely high-quality olive oil you can’t buy on a typical market shelf.