How Does Light Affect Olive Oil?

How Does Light Affect Olive Oil?

Light is your EVOO's WORST ENEMY! Read on to learn why, and how Graza's packaging design helps protect from light damaging your tasty olive oil.

Light is part of the "Big Three"—heat, oxygen, and light—which are the top enemies of tasty, good quality EVOO. All three can deteriorate your olive oil, stripping away that tasty Picual flavor and health benefits. Here we'll break down the science behind why light harms olive oil, how Graza packaging protects against UV damage, and best practices in your own kitchen to avoid rancidity and spoilage.

Why Does Light Deteriorate Olive Oil?

When olive oil is exposed to sunlight from being stored in transparent containers, it instigates a photo-oxidation process that damages the overall nutritional quality and taste of the oil. (Yes that's right, glass isn't always safer. In fact, when it comes to olive oil, it doesn't mean much at all in terms of quality).

Did you know that there are specific standards that separate regular or light olive oil from extra virgin? These standards include UV spectrophotometry, which is a process absorbable by the oil, known as K 270 values. This testing can help reveal phony "extra virgin" olive oil that has been chemically altered or diluted and mixed. 

Glass isn't always safer.

In one study conducted on the effects of sunlight exposure on olive oil, researchers found that oil stored in light had lower levels of chlorophyll, antioxidants, and K 270 levels which would qualify them as a regular olive oil instead of "extra virgin." This means that non-opaque glass storage can result in such significant quality degradation that the olive oil no longer meets the "extra virgin" standards it did at the time of bottling.

This is because light causes the chlorophyll—naturally found in olive oil and the cause for its distinct green color—to break down, changing the smell and taste of the oil. It also leads to lower levels of the cancer fighting, brain health boosting (and all around good for you and your body systems) carotenoids and tocopherols—critical antioxidants that are naturally found in olive oil. At the same time, light exposure causes levels of toxic, cancer causing free radicals to increase. This entire process of photo-oxidation means your oil goes bad faster, loses its nutritional benefits, and results in a rancid taste.

How Does Graza Protect Against Light Damage?

Choosing the right packaging is crucial to preserving the quality and flavor profile of an olive oil. At Graza we package all of our olive oil in UV resistant packaging—fully opaque bottles and cans. And this means that unlike oil packaged in glass bottles, once Graza olive oil has been canned or bottled it is never exposed to light while sitting on a grocery shelf or in transit.

BUT WE TOOK IT A STEP FURTHER! By creating a squeeze bottle with a twistable top, you can dose out your EVOO without removing the cap, which further exposes the oil to light and oxygen. The squeeze cap and format limits exposure to the Big Three as much as possible. And to refill those light-proof squeeze bottles, you just crack open a light-proof can. Easy peasy, absolutely no light allowed!

To preserve your olive oil's health benefits and taste, you should try to keep it away from sunlight, oxygen, and heat as much as possible. This means keeping your Graza in a cabinet or part of the kitchen that doesn't get much light and isn't close to your microwave or oven.