Hi everyone! Usually we have ever heard of antioxidants. And about the relationship between antioxidants and polyphenols in olive oil. Well, polyphenols are natural antioxidants.

And I emphasize “natural” since there are also other types of antioxidants that are synthetic. Obviously, the latter produced artificially. Due to these substances it is claimed that olive oil is a natural antioxidant.

In the same way, these natural antioxidants that are polyphenols are compounds bio-synthesized by plants. And they are part of them and are chemical substances of various kinds.

So, to address this issue I am going to consult a reliable source. This is an article in the journal Clinical Nutrition in Medicine, number 2 of 2018, entitled “Bioactive compounds in virgin olive oil“. And written by Estefanía Sánchez Rodríguez and María D Mesa.

Polyphenols in olive

In the first place, antioxidants, apart from providing aroma, taste and color to olive oil, are responsible for most of the biological activities and functional properties of vegetables. Especially the most popular for their properties are the compounds called phenolics, commonly called “polyphenols“.

green olives
Green Olives, rich in polyphenols

Second, on what factors does the polyphenol content in an EVOO depend? There are several: type of olive and maturity of the olive at the time of its collection, especially. In addition to the area of cultivation, the climate, and the type of process used to extract the olive oil.

Polyphenols, as a general rule, are more abundant in extra virgin olive oil than in other oils. Especially in Premium olive oil, since the olives are harvested before ripening. Because of this, it has not lost much of these antioxidants.

Furthermore, polyphenols are characteristic of virgin olive oil and are not present in other vegetable oils.

Some examples of these polyphenols are: Oleuropein, the molecule responsible for the bitterness of virgin olive oil, and Oleocanthal, responsible for itching in the throat.

Likewise, these phenols are minority compounds and the main cause of the preventive and therapeutic effects of virgin olive oil. And its functions are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti proliferative.

The most relevant phenols for their effects are hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein.

Hidroxytyrosol in olive oil

antioxidant in extra virgin olive oil
Chemical composition of Hydroxytyrosol

Hydroxytyrosol is the most studied for its great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action. And it is capable of regulatinginduced oxidative damage in cells. As well as exerting an anti-inflammatory action that contributes to the prevention of CVDs (cardiovascular diseases), diabetes, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

On the other hand, Oleuropein is important for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor activity.

And Oleocanthal has shown its great anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and neuroprotective potential.

Olive oil benefits

Thus, there are many properties that make polyphenols beneficial for our health. And consequently, in helping in the prevention of many diseases. Below I mention the most relevant ones.

Cardiovascular disease prevention

Cardiac risk is associated with the relationship between the types of LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and HDL (“good” cholesterol). When consuming virgin olive oil there is an increase in HDL cholesterol, reducing the LDL / HDL ratio, and therefore the cardiac risk. Phenolic compounds have also been shown to enhance HDL and its antioxidant capacity.

Next I will mention the Eurolive Study (2002-2004) on the effect of olive oil consumption and oxidative damage in European populations.

This study, coordinated by Dr. Covas from the IMIM center (Institut Hospital del Mar d’Investigacions Mèdiques), demonstrated the protective role of phenolic compounds in olive oil on oxidative damage to lipids. In addition, the increase in HDL cholesterol was proportional to the phenolic content of the olive oil consumed.

Diabetes prevention

First, it has been shown that in patients with high cardiovascular risk, the Mediterranean diet supplemented with virgin olive oil reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes (DHT2) by 40%. In addition to improving insulin resistance and inflammatory biomarkers in diabetic individuals.

Anticancer activity

Increasing the Mediterranean diet in nutritional habits reduces cancer mortality by 13%, according to a meta-analysis published in 2015.

Also, several studies have shown that hydroxytyrosol, oleuropein, and oleocanthal are capable of inhibiting the proliferation and stopping the cell cycle of tumor cells.

Protection against neurodegenerative diseases

Many studies have shown the antioxidant potential of virgin olive oil in brain tissue. And especially of its minor components such as oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol and oleocanthal.

Due to this, they are key elements in the inhibition of these oxide concentrations in the brain. And what are the causes of these neurodegenerative diseases.

polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil
mediterranean diet

In addition, the benefits of the Mediterranean diet are increasingly evident. And in particular of the phenolic components of virgin olive oil against cognitive decline and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Thus, the results obtained are encouraging. And they show that virgin olive oil and its phenolic components have a beneficial effect on Alzheimer’s disease.

Antimicrobial activity

Olive oil and olive leaf extracts have been used since ancient times to alleviate pathologies associated with microorganisms.

olive oil in ancient timesOlive oil in ancient times.

Likewise, antimicrobial activity of these olive leaf extracts and pure hydroxytyrosol have been described to prevent infections in the respiratory, intestinal and genital systems.

Also to strengthen the immune system. Especially against microorganisms such as Escherichia Coli, bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract; Streptococcus Mutans, a bacterium associated with the formation of cavities; Candida Albicans, fungal infection; Staphylococcus Aureus, which causes skin infections and sometimes even pneumonia.

And against Salmonella Enterica, a bacterium that causes salmonellosis. Yersinia sp, a bacterium that affects the intestinal tract. Shigella Sonnei, the cause of dysentery. Helicobacter Pylori, a bacterium that causes stomach infections such as ulcers, even stomach cancer. And finally, Clostridium Perfringens, a bacterium that causes food poisoning and diarrhea.

Protection against skin conditions

First of all, the beneficial properties of olive oil as a topical agent are due to its activity as an antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and emollient.

olive oil cream Olive oil cream.

Therefore, the repairing capacity of oleic acid and the antioxidants present in virgin olive oil give it a unique capacity to treat skin conditions.

Olive oil polyphenols: a hope

In conclusion, evidence has been shown of how beneficial it is to ingest extra virgin olive oil due to its high content of polyphenols. And therefore it acts as a powerful natural antioxidant.

Likewise, there is still a lack of scientific studies showing the relationship between virgin olive oil and the prevention of certain diseases. Although the results of the studies carried out present us with a promising future.

See you in the next post! Gourmet EVOO Blog

Antioxidant olive oil
Article Name
Antioxidant olive oil
Polyphenols are natural antioxidants and are found in vegetables. Olive oil has these antioxidants that according to scientific studies are beneficial for our health.
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La Tinaja del Gourmet
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