SPAIN is reaping the benefits of a worldwide boom in olive oil consumption, prompted by renewed appreciation of its nutritive and dietary qualities. Olive oil has been proved to be beneficial to the cardiovascular system, as well as reducing cholesterol levels, and Spain is the world's leading manufacturer and exporter of the product. But appreciation of olive oil is nothing new. Olives have been grown in Spain since the time of the Phoenicians and Spanish olive oil, in particular, was much sought after in ancient Rome. Spain today produces 60 kinds of olive oil, from the smooth, sweetish, faintly almond-flavoured oils of Catalonia to the full-bodied, fruity oils of Andalucia. For those unfamiliar with olive oil, three different types are on the market: Virgin Olive Oil is the pure, unadulterated, unrefined juice of the fruit with an acidity level of less than two degrees. It must be obtained from the olive by mechanical or physical metho ds that in no way alter its characteristics. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is obtained by the same natural process, but must have a lower acidity level - less than one degree. Olive Oil is a blend of virgin and refined olive oil.