What are polyphenols and polyphenol-rich olive oil?

Apr 06, 2023

What are polyphenols and polyphenol-rich olive oil?

Polyphenols are a type of bioactive compound, or natural chemical molecule, present in small quantities in some plant foods such as grapes, tea, nuts, and olives.

Several types of polyphenols, including hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol, oleuropein, oleacein, and oleaocanthal, are particularly potent in olives. That means they are also present in high-quality olive oil.

“The health benefits of olive oil are 99 percent related to the presence of the phenolic compounds, not the oil itself,” Nasir Malik, research plant physiologist at the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Agricultural Research Service, told the Washington Post in an interview.

Research demonstrates polyphenols protective effects against oxidative stress – a type of physiological stress that can cause DNA mutations and lead to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s.

Polyphenol-rich olive oil is extra-virgin olive oil that contains a high percentage of polyphenol compounds. Often, it has a vibrant flavor and peppery finish.

But what is considered high? Experts would say that high means at least 5 mg of polyphenols per 1.5 tablespoons (20 grams) of olive oil. According to the European Union Health Claim Labeling Regulation of 2012, that’s the minimum level of polyphenols that must be present for an extra-virgin olive oil producer to claim their product has the ability to deliver meaningful health benefits, like protecting blood lipids from oxidative damage.

Qualifying oils like The Olive Temple extra-virgin olive oils that we sell, refer to HEALTH CLAIM (EU 432/2012) and features the following description on its label:

“Polyphenols obtained daily with a 20 gr olive oil intake contribute to the protection of blood lipids from oxidative stress”

However, the best proof of polyphenols content in an extra-virgin olive oil is a certificate of analysis that reputable producers like The Olive Temple always provide with their product for each harvest. Not only high polyphenol content is responsible for olive oil health benefits, it also helps the oil to preserve its freshness longer working as a natural preservative.

Laurel & Flame Fresh Organic Ultra-Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil has one of the highest polyphenol contents on the market (920 mg/1 kg) and owns the title of The Best Olive Oil in Greece it was awarded at Athena International Olive Oil Competition in 2021.