Are you searching for the best ingredient to support a healthy lifestyle? Look no further than polyphenol-rich olive oil. In this article, you’ll discover why polyphenol-rich olive oil is the ultimate addition to your healthy diet. We understand the importance of making informed choices and the fear of choosing the wrong ingredients. As producers of some of the tastiest polyphenol-rich extra virgin olive oil on the market, we are here to provide you with expert advice.
This article is for those who prioritize their health and want only the best for their bodies. Whether you’re already a fan of olive oil or just starting to explore its benefits, keep reading to find out more about the power of polyphenol-rich olive oil.
What are polyphenols?
Polyphenols are a family of over 8,000 types of micronutrients that naturally occur in plants. Polyphenols are potent antioxidants that have been shown to protect cells against oxidative stress and DNA damage caused by free radicals. Although polyphenols such as flavonoids are part of a well-balanced diet, it’s challenging to consume significant quantities from regular food alone (e.g. regular olive oil). Because of this, many people resort to taking supplements or even better, including polyphenol-rich foods in their diets.
What is polyphenol rich olive oil and what are its health benefits?
Polyphenol-rich olive oil is extra virgin olive oil with high polyphenol levels. According to the EU Commission Regulation 432/2012, olive oil polyphenols contribute to the protection of blood lipids from oxidative stress, and to claim this health benefit on its label, an olive oil should contain at least 5 mg of hydroxytyrosol and its derivatives (e.g. oleuropein complex and tyrosol) per 20 g of olive oil.
Olive oil contains several phenolic compounds, some of which are unique, including oleocanthal, oleacein, hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol, oleuropein, and ligstroside. The health benefits of polyphenol-rich olive oil are directly correlated with the health benefits of these polyphenols which possess anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-atherogenic, anti-thrombotic, and anti-mutagenic properties. Moreover, the beneficial effects of natural plant polyphenols on the human body have been evaluated in a number of research studies, and polyphenols were determined to slow down the progression of cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, and cancer diseases.
Health benefits of oleocanthal
Oleocanthal is a natural polyphenol exclusive to the olives, and subsequently, to the olive oil. Oleocanthal has strong anti-inflammatory properties, shares unique perceptual and anti-inflammatory characteristics with Ibuprofen.
A phenolic compound contained in VOO, named oleocanthal, shares unique perceptual and anti-inflammatory characteristics with Ibuprofen. Oleocanthal is one of the most prominent polyphenols in olive oil, and in recent years it has become a popular subject of research for its pharmacological qualities.
Health benefits of oleuropein
Beyond hypertension, oleuropein has been shown to have cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-Recent studies have shown that there are many health benefits to be gained from oleuropein, including being cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-angiogenic. It has also been shown that oleuropein has neuroprotective properties as well.
In addition to these effects, which make it a potential candidate for use in pharmaceuticals, there is evidence that it also has some promising disease-fighting effects, and thus may be of therapeutic potential for a variety of human disorders
Health benefits of oleacein
The Mediterranean diet is associated with many health benefits, including a lower risk of developing metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. In clinical studies, oleacein was found to have protective action against abdominal fat accumulation, weight gain, and liver steatosis. Oleacein has also been linked to lower risks for metabolic and cardiovascular diseases by improving insulin-dependent glucose and lipid metabolism.
Health benefits of extra virgin olive oil
Let’s not forget to mention that some of the health benefits of polyphenol-rich olive oil come from the olive oil itself. Extra virgin olive oil has several health-promoting properties. The predominant fatty acid in olive oil is a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, making up to 80% of the total oil content. There are several studies that suggest that oleic acid reduces inflammation and may even have beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer. Monounsaturated fats (and olive oil polyphenols to a lesser degree) are also quite resistant to high heat, making extra virgin olive oil a healthy choice for cooking.
So how does high polyphenol EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) compare to conventional olive oil or refined olive oil?
- Promotes heart health
- Helps lower blood pressure
- Helps keep your arteries healthy
- Boosts the immune system
- Protects against heart disease
- Official EU health claim
- Antioxidant properties
What makes olive oil rich in polyphenols?
There is no single deciding factor that determines the phenolic content of olive oil. In most cases, polyphenol-rich olive oil is the result of a combination of factors, including the microclimate of the area, tree variety, and most importantly, the cultivation process of the olive trees. Because there are many deciding factors, I recommend that you choose a product based on the chemical analysis of its polyphenol contents, the taste profile, and product reviews. Nevertheless, the factors listed below will give you an idea of what to expect, for example, many polyphenol-rich extra virgin olive oils naturally come from the Koroneiki olive variety.
Altitude and olive tree variety
Although it’s perfectly doable to create high phenolic olive oil at sea level orchards, higher altitude olive groves tend to produce larger quantities of olive oil polyphenols. Moreover, olive varieties like Koroneiki tend to yield higher polyphenol content in their olive fruit (olives).
Cultivation and water intake
The watering of the olive trees is an important factor when it comes to the quality of extra virgin olive oil, and its polyphenol content in particular. Because of this, professional olive oil producers frequently invest in irrigation infrastructure for their orchards, which allows them to dial the water intake of the olive trees depending on the rainfall of a particular season. The ideal watering condition for trees that produce polyphenol-rich olive oil is to limit the water intake to one or two times per year, which causes the olive trees to produce a higher polyphenol concentration in their olive oil fruit.
Harvesting and extraction
Olive harvesting and extraction is another important factor that decides the quality of extra virgin olive oil and its polyphenol content. To create the best quality of polyphenol-rich extra virgin olive oil, specialized producers use a carefully designed process to remove the olives from the trees, and quickly transport them to the extraction facility intact. The longer the crop waits before the extraction it can cause the olives to deteriorate due to temperature, storage conditions, water, and oxygen presence.
In terms of extraction, anything else than cold mechanical extraction will negatively affect the quality of the extra virgin olive oil, and as a result, all high polyphenol EVOO (extra virgin olive oils) are cold-pressed.
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Frequently asked questions about polyphenol-rich olive oil
How to store polyphenol-rich olive oil
How you store polyphenol-rich olive oil depends on if you store it for business or personal use. For personal use, I recommend resealing the olive oil bottle and keeping it in a dry, cool place, without direct sun exposure. If you store it for business purposes, I recommend placing the sealed bottles in a temperature-controlled storage unit.
Keeping the high polyphenol olive oil in a chilled environment minimizes the loss of its phenolic contents over time. Therefore it’s preferable to keep it in a controlled temperature environment, and out of direct sunlight during transportation, retail distribution, and on the retail shelf.
How Long Does Olive Oil Retain High Polyphenol Content After Bottling?
How long olive oil retains its polyphenols after bottling, largely depends on the transportation and storage conditions. Another factor is how fast it’s consumed after opening. As a rule of thumb, try to consume high phenolic olive oil from the latest harvest. This way you can avoid olive oils that have been sitting in the bottle for more than a year.
To slow down the oxidation after opening, I would suggest buying 250 to 500 ml bottles that you can consume within a few weeks. Also, if the bottles are transparent (not painted), it’s important to store your olive oil in a dark, chilled place, ideally around 18°C/65°F or a few degrees below.
How is polyphenol-rich olive oil certified?
There are several accredited Inspection and Certification Bodies worldwide that provide certification services according to government regulations, for example, REGULATION (EU) 2018/848, and NOP USDA (USA).
The olive oil producer typically chooses between the certification and inspection bodies that operate in her country and then goes through a lengthy certification process in accordance with the government guidelines.
When it comes to high polyphenol olive oil, one such agency is the World Olive Center, which verifies the chemical composition, and phenolic content of certified olive oil, and gives a stamp of approval with their logo.
Which countries produce polyphenol-rich olive oil?
Although the vast majority of certified polyphenol-rich olive oil comes from Greece, there are also certified producers in Italy, Spain, Cyprus, and Croatia.
Does phenolic content affect the flavor of olive oil?
Bitterness is indeed a major attribute of foods and beverages rich in phenolic compounds. When it comes to the flavor of polyphenol-rich olive oil, there had been studies that correlate polyphenol levels to the bitter intensity of high-quality olive oils. Another factor is that polyphenol-rich olive oils tend to be from the Koroneiki olive variety, which has its own unique, distinct taste. My suggestion is to experiment with different polyphenol-rich olive oils until you find the best taste for you.
How much polyphenol-rich olive oil should I have per day?
The EU classifies olive oils as polyphenol-rich (regulation 432/2012) if they contain at least 5 mg of hydroxytyrosol and its derivatives (e.g. oleuropein complex and tyrosol) per 20 g of olive oil. This is considered the minimum quantity of polyphenol-rich olive oil that can have health-promoting effects.
How can I know how many polyphenols are in my olive oil?
Most polyphenol-rich olive oil producers are proud to share the chemical analysis (including polyphenol levels) for their olive oils, either as part of the packaging or on their websites. Furthermore, according to regulation EU 432/2012, if an olive oil claims its health benefits on the bottle, it is required by law to contain the minimum quantity of at least 5 mg of hydroxytyrosol and its derivatives (e.g. oleuropein complex and tyrosol) per 20 g of olive oil. I would also encourage you to look for products that bear the stamp of approval of the World Olive Center.
Can I use polyphenol-rich olive oil for cooking?
Monounsaturated fats (and phenolic compounds to a lesser degree) are quite resistant to high heat, making polyphenol-rich extra virgin olive oil a healthy choice for cooking.
In the last few years, the awareness around polyphenol-rich olive oil and the number of people adding it to their diets has increased. This is due to its health benefits, the taste of Mediterranean cuisine, and the ease of making olive oil part of a healthy diet. I wholeheartedly advise you to start using high phenolic olive oil in your diet and see the difference it will make in your health.