Have you ever wondered about the pH of olive oil? If so, you aren’t alone. Whether or not olive oil is acidic or alkaline is a question that crosses many minds, especially given that many associate olive oil’s acidity with the quality of olive oil. But do the acidic features of olive oil make any real difference? We’ll answer that and more in today’s post.
Table of Contents
- pH Level of Olive Oil
- What Is the pH of Olive Oil?
- Does Acidity Affect the Flavor Of Olive Oil?
- How to Choose the Best Olive Oil
- How to Use Olive Oil
- Is Olive Oil Acidic? Yes, But Maybe in the Way You May Think…
pH Level of Olive Oil
Olive Oil pH Scale
The pH level of olive oil is said to be between 0.8% and 2%. However, when discussing the pH level of any kind of oil, things can get tricky.
The reason that it can be difficult to determine an oil’s pH level is that oil isn’t soluble in water, and therefore, it can be difficult to determine its pH. Because of this truth, the acidity of olive oil is usually determined by how many free fatty acids are in the oil.
Initially, olive oil starts with a free fatty acid percentage of 0. But as olive oil is processed in reaction with water and oxygen, free fatty acids are eventually produced.
Once free fatty acids are produced, the acidity of olive oil increases. Of course, there are many different types of olive oil. But generally speaking, the rule is that the more acid in olive oil the lower the quality of the oil.
In fact, olive oils that are 2% or over in terms of fatty acid percentages are labeled as “lampante” oil which used to be used to light lamps. Lampante oil is not fit for human consumption.
With these facts in mind, it may be easier to understand why olive oil that is lower in acidity (as measured by the number of fatty acids in the olive oil) is the higher quality oil.
What Is the pH of Olive Oil?
Remember that olive oil isn’t necessarily measured in terms of pH because it isn’t soluble in water. When olive oil is measured for acidity, what is actually being measured is the amount of free fatty acids within the oil.
With this in mind, olive oil that is fresh and unrefined will register at a 0 (meaning zero free fatty acids). As refining and processing take place, however, the amount of “acid” will increase which is why you may see certain percentages marked on virgin olive oil bottles.
Does Acidity Affect the Flavor Of Olive Oil?
One very common misconception is that the acidity of olive oil affects the flavor of the oil itself. This actually isn’t the case.
While lower acidity is ideal when it comes to the quality of your olive oil, it isn’t necessarily true that you can taste the difference between a lower acidity olive oil and a higher one.
Rather, acidity levels in olive oil are a testament to how pure they are. Virgin olive oil with a higher acidic rating is telling you that the olive oil is of lesser quality and has fewer nutritional benefits than one that is lower in acidity.
So, why do so many people believe that the acidity of olive oil affects the flavor of the oil? This is likely due to the fact that many people associate high acidity with a bitter taste. Thus, people may believe that the more bitter tasting the oil, the higher the acidity, and thus, the lower the quality.
Of course, part of the above statement is true. The higher the acid in olive oil the lesser quality it is.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Bitter can actually be better when it comes to olive oil. That’s because it is the presence of polyphenols that give olive oil its bitter taste. Polyphenols help manage blood pressure and can help regulate blood sugar. Therefore, that bitter-tasting olive oil just may have benefits you weren’t expecting that isn’t at all related to the amount of acidity within the oil.
How to Choose the Best Olive Oil
Choosing great olive oil doesn’t have to be hard. Use these fool-proof tips to snag the best quality oil every time.
- When faced with the decision between Olive Oil Vs Extra Virgin Olive Oil, you should always choose extra virgin olive oil. Especially if purity is important to you.
- Choose olive oil sold in a dark bottle as this will keep sunlight out to preserve freshness.
- Choose olive oil that is low in acid.
- Look for the harvest date. If it’s printed, chances are that the olive oil is high quality. If you see a “best by” date instead, it might not be as fresh as you’d hoped.
- Know that bitter isn’t always bad when it comes to olive oil. In fact, it is often seen as a good thing as it can signal freshness.
- Remember that both light and heat can ruin your olive oil. For best results, store bulk olive oil in a cool dark pantry. Bring out only as much as you’ll use in a few days at a time.
How to Use Olive Oil
There are many ways that you may be able to use olive oil as a healthy part of your everyday diet. These include:
- Adding to Salads – Skip preservatives and unhealthy oils in store-bought salad dressing. Instead try using olive oil as a base for healthy homemade dressings.
- Adding to Popcorn and Other Foods – Opt for olive oil with sea salt and cracked black pepper for a flavorful and healthier version of popcorn seasoning. Olive oil is also great drizzled over veggies as opposed to drenching them in butter.
- As a Part of Your Daily Beauty Regimen – Olive oil can be used sparingly in your beauty regimen. But don’t overdo it. The oleic acid in olive oil may do more harm to the skin than good when used for prolonged periods of time.
Is Olive Oil Acidic? Yes, But Maybe in the Way You May Think…
While olive oil is technically acidic, it is the measurement of free fatty acids within the oil that attribute to the acidity of olive oil. The lower the amount of free fatty acids in the oil, the higher quality of the oil.
Thus, when looking for good olive oil, pay close attention to the percentage of acid in the oil. Also, how it is bottled, and even how it tastes.
Bitter can be better when it comes to healthy olive oil. But it is not determined by the amount of acid within the oil.
Olive oil isn’t usually determined by pH. Instead, acidity listed on labels refers to the amount of free fatty acids found in the oil.
Oil isn’t normally dictated in terms of pH. The amount of acidity in the oil will depend on what type of oil it is.
Yes, olive oil is high in acidity in terms of free fatty acids, but not in the sense you might normally think of something acidic. It is not acidic the way that lemons and limes are; it is acidic only in terms of the amount of free fatty acids contained in the oil. The fewer free fatty acids there are the better quality of the olive oil.