Hi there and thank you for your question!
The difference between extra virgin olive oil and light or refined olive oil is the level of processing (1). Extra virgin olive oil is the least processed type of olive oil and is cold-pressed within 24 hours of picking the olives (1). This process of making extra virgin olive oil helps preserve healthy fats and more antioxidants, which protect our cells from damage, compared to the process of making other refined versions of olive oil (1).
To help preserve the nutrients in extra virgin olive oil, it is best to use it for salad dressings, dips or marinades (2). For light or refined olive oil, it is best for all-purpose cooking and baking (2).
Regardless of the type of oil you use, all types of olive oil can provide health benefits and be part of a healthy eating pattern.
Hope this helps!
Anna Ng, RD
1. "Heart-Healthy Oils." Cleveland Clinic. Updated October 1, 2019. Accessed December 21, 2020. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/16031-heart-healthy-oils-what-you-need-to-know
2. "How to Choose and Use Healthy Cooking Oils." Updated October 20, 2020. Accessed December 21, 2020. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-choose-and-use-healthy-cooking-oils/