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Extra Virgin Olive Oils Are Not Created Equal

When you consider an Extra Virgin Olive Oil, ask the following questions five times:

Is it real 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil or has it been diluted with other cheap oils?

Is it a true natural product with the proper nutritional ingredients or is it a low quality product that has gone through heavy refining and filtration and has practically zero nutritional value?

For decades nutritionists have been advising people to use olive oil in their diet instead of other oils. This is excellent advice except for one very serious problem. It is almost impossible for the average unsuspecting consumer in the United States to find real extra virgin olive oil. Almost impossible, because 95% of the olive oils available in supermarket selves in the US are of inferior quality and of questionable origin and composition.

Olive oil has been used as part of the human diet for more than 5000 years. The ancient Greeks had recognized long time ago the health benefits of olive oil consumption. The writings of Hippocrates, the long human experience with olive oil through the centuries as well as modem research performed in universities and research institutions around the world indicate that olive oil is beneficial to health and that we should definitely include it in our diet.

Olive oil has been determined to be the ingredient in Greek diet that contributes more than anything else to the excellent health of Greeks. However, in order to get the same health benefits as most Greeks do due to their significant consumption of true extra virgin olive oil, the consumer must be able to find and buy the same kind of oil. This is very difficult, because most olive oil brands available on a typical supermarket selve do not come even close to the true extra virgin olive oil produced by a typical Greek farmer and consumed by a typical Greek family. Even though these products are labeled that way, they do not contain the nutrients that are so essential to health because these nutrients have been removed or neutralized as a result of the way the oil has been processed and due to tampering and dilution of the extra virgin olive oil with oils produced from other sources (canola, hazelnut, etc.), olive oils of other grades, refined olive oils and generally oils of much lower quality, price and nutritional value. This is happening with olive oils labeled as "Cold-Pressed Extra Virgin". The label therefore of "Cold-Pressed Extra Virgin" is not a guarantee of quality. There is nothing in US laws that govern the production and labeling of olive oil that says that olive oil labeled as "Extra Virgin" has to be 100% Extra Virgin. Very surprising, isn't it?

As a result of these very loose regulations, we have an olive oil market in the US that is full of fraud and deception. We have a situation where highly refined and filtered products such as those labeled as "Light Olive Oil" and "Extra Light Olive Oil" are being sold to the consumer as quality products when they are the lowest of the low-quality olive oils available on this planet.

In fact, many unsuspecting consumers in the US buy and use Pomace olive oil that is sold in many markets around the country at prices that are lower than other types of olive oil. This oil however is very bad and we would advise you to stay away from it. It is extracted from olive cake (the solid stuff that remains after production of olive oil) through the use of high temperature, high pressure and chemicals and does not contain anything that a sensible person would want to put in their body. DO NOT TOUCH THIS STUFF; IT IS DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH; STAY AWAY FROM IT. The European Union recently placed a hold on all exports of Pomace oil because it suspects the oil to contain certain carcinogens.

To make things somewhat simple for those of you that do not know much about olive oil, we would advise you to stay away from the following types of olive oils: Pomace Oil, Extra Light Olive Oil, Light Olive Oil, Pure Olive Oil, Refined Olive Oil, Olive Oil Cake Refined and Olive Oil. Virgin Olive Oil is not the best type of olive oil and we would not recommend it because of its high acidity, but at least it is not as bad as this other stuff that I just mentioned.

The only olive oil that we would recommend to you is "High Quality 100% Cold-Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil" and "High Quality 100% Cold-Pressed Certified Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil". The problem here however, is that you don't really know which olive oil is high quality and which is not. Which olive oil is 100% extra virgin and which is not. Unfortunately, the label "Cold-Pressed Extra Virgin" is not a guarantee of quality or composition.

Olive oil is special compared to other oils because it has the unique characteristic that it can be consumed directly in its crude form without refining. This conserves all its vitamins, essential fatty acids, and other nutrients. Since it contains all these nutrients, including certain important antioxidants, real extra virgin olive oil is very good for our health because it protects the cells of our body from damage by free radical oxidation. The membranes of the cells contain certain fatty acids that are highly susceptible to free radical damage. This free radical oxidation damage produces lipid peroxides that can actually kill the cell. Real olive oil contains polyphenols, vitamin E, and other natural antioxidants that prevent this kind of cell damage. Real extra virgin olive oil is therefore very good for our health.

Many studies performed by various independent research institutions have shown conclusively that olive oil lowers blood pressure, reduces cholesterol, inhibits platelet aggregation, and lowers the incidence of breast and colon cancer. Because it contains so many powerful antioxidants, olive oil seems to significantly reduce the oxidation of LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol and therefore prevents heart disease. These same antioxidants are also responsible to a great extent for the stability, shelf life, and flavor of olive oil.

High quality olive oil that is rich in antioxidants is very easy to obtain in Greece because almost every household in the olive oil-producing areas of the country has its own olive groves and produces its own high quality olive oil. This same kind of olive oil is almost impossible to obtain in the United States. This is because of the way the olive oil industry operates. It is geared towards profit and not towards service to the consumer. Almost all major brand names available in your supermarket selve that are labeled "Cold-Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil" contain only a fraction of extra virgin olive oil and that, often of questionable quality. The rest of it is refined olive oils designed to reduce the acidity, lower grade olive oils, as well as other oils such as canola and hazelnut oils that are not easily traceable at certain percentages because they have no flavor of their own. Refined olive oils have often low acidity but they also have zero nutritional value and contain traces of the chemicals used during the refining process. They are low quality and inferior products and you should stay away from them. This is why finding a good olive oil is so difficult.

Our "Eliki" Extra Virgin Olive Oil is special because it comes to you directly from the Greek farmers of the province of Aegialia without any additives, without any mixtures, without any tampering. The olive oil that Greek farmers have in their homes for their own consumption is completely unfiltered. They usually let it sit in large stainless steel containers and semi-solid deposits form at the bottom (this is normal for true olive oil). Our "Eliki" olive oil is available either as lightly filtered in order to prevent deposit formation at the bottom of the bottles for esthetic reasons or as completely unfiltered. The unfiltered olive oil is available at this time only in 3.0 lit. tin cans. If you look at our "Eliki" olive oil closely, you will find that it is a little cloudy, which is a sign of a good olive oil. By the way, we can supply our "Eliki" olive oil unfiltered in any kind of packaging if the customer requests the oil that way and if the order is large enough to justify a change in our specifications.

We are so confident about the quality of our product that we have placed a typical detailed specification of our olive oil online. Of course, there are small variations between different batches, but we consistently offer a very high quality product that is difficult or impossible to find in your local supermarket. In addition to that, we can provide our customers with 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil and 100% Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil that conforms to customer specifications in terms of acidity. For example, depending on the production year, we can control the acidity within a certain range (i.e. 0.2%, 0.3%, 0.4%, 0.5%, 0.6%, 0.7%, etc. up to 1.0%). This is because when we receive the olive oil from the farmers, we immediately measure it and we store it in stainless steel containers according to its acidity. This way we can supply our customers with olive oil of very high quality. Our olive oil has a typical acidity of 0.4-0.6% and never an acidity above 1.0%. Our extra virgin olive oil does not contain refined oils, other grades of olive oil or other types of oils. It is guaranteed to be 100% olive juice of the extra virgin type.

Often our customers ask us what kind of olive oil they should buy and why. The answer is simple: you should buy only 100% extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil and nothing else. The reasons are taste and nutritional value. Lower grades of olive oil do not taste nearly as good and do not contain the antioxidants that are present in 100% extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil. Lower grades may also contain additives or chemicals that are harmful to the human body.

"Extra Virgin" refers primarily to the acidity of the olive oil (<1.0%). In general, the lower the acidity, the higher the quality of the olive oil. "Cold-Pressed" refers to the production process used to produce the olive oil. Cold-pressed olive oil is produced at low temperature by using moderate pressures. The low temperature insures that the oil is not overheated. This preserves the chemical structure of the olive oil molecules while all the nutrients and antioxidants that are naturally present in the olives are left intact.

Our Eliki olive oil is 100% extra virgin cold-pressed olive juice without additives or mixtures on any kind. The acidity varies depending on the production year between 0.4% and 0.6%. It is one of the best olive oils that you can find and it is priced competitively given its quality.

Our Eliki olive oil is available either as lightly filtered (in order to prevent deposit formation at the bottom of the bottles) or as completely unfiltered. We made the unfiltered olive oil available because many of our customers that are familiar with high quality olive oil kept asking for it.

If you have any questions about olive oil, please do not hesitate to call us or send us an email.

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