When it comes to oils, extra virgin olive oil is ahead of the game. It is rich in monounsaturated fat, which is full of health benefits. In a study published in Clinical Cardiology, researchers write that, "Exclusive use of olive oil during food preparation seems to offer significant protection against coronary heart disease, irrespective of various clinical, lifestyle and other characteristics of the participants."
Wh foods writes that olive oil has a large amount of antioxidants, including chlorophyll, carotenoids and other compounds that neutralizes free radicals and protect the Vitamin E found in olive oil.
Olive oil and antioxidants? I would have never guessed!
Actually, the oleic acid that is in the the oil is resistant to free radical/oxidative damage.
Not only that, but "it turns out that people who use olive oil regularly, especially in place of other fats, have much lower rates of heart disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, and asthma." (Whfoods.com)
There are several methods of extracting oil from olives. Extra virgin olive oil is produced from gently crushing the olives between stone or steel rollers. There is minimal heat or oxygen involved, and therefore the nutrients and antioxidants are kept intact. There is also a smaller amound of acid in this oil-less than 1%. Unrefined, this oil is best kept in dark, opaque bottles/ in a dark area. And it's wonderful to add to salads or steamed vegetables!
In order to squeeze out more oil, there are modern techniques which do subject olives to heat, light, and oxygen. This process destroys the natural nutrients and later, chemicals are often added to replace the vitamin E, etc that were lost from the heat. Thus we have "pure" olive oil or just olive oil-refined and civilized....
A possible benefit from refined olive oil is that b/c it's more heat resistant than vegetable oils (like corn), it may be a safer option when frying. Since the oil will not break down as fast as it's vegetable counterparts. (It's important not to heat any oil past it's smoke point: the point where visible gaseous vapor is evident from the heated oil. 'Cuz that means the oil is decomposing...)
So, if and when we can, let's opt for extra virgin or virgin oilve oil. And keep them in the cupboards when we can remember. It is more pricey than, say, corn oil. True.
But considering the benefits, I say, pray to the Almighty, save our pennies/shekels and get the best...
Sages say that olive oil strengthens and sharpens the memory.
Check it out:
http://www.whfoods.com/: Olive oil