What Is Oleocanthal?

Jul 06, 2023

What Is Oleocanthal?

Oleocanthal is one of 30+ phenols presently identified in olive oil proving it is more than just a good fat. It’s interesting that although referred to as “phenol”, its count is not included in total polyphenols' count in olive oils lab reports.

As per Sarah Gray of Olive Wellness Institute, “Oleocanthal is responsible for the pungency, peppery and stinging sensation in the throat, experienced with high quality and fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil”.

It is also known to be responsible for a number of health effects on a human body. While some of these effects and benefits are similar to those of hydroxytyrosol we spoke of in our previous blog, the ones oleocanthal is most known for are anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing ones.

Dr Jenna Macciochi, a UK immunologist, calls extra virgin olive oil a pain killer with side-benefits rather than side-effects due to the presence of oleocanthal in it and states that 50 ml extra virgin olive oil per day corresponds to approximately 10% of a standard dose of pain-relieving ibuprofen. She also mentions that oleocanthal levels are higher in more robust extra virgin olive oils, while some other experts suggest that early harvest olive oils typically have higher oleocanthal levels than those made from olives harvested later in the season.

There has also been some research on oleocanthal’s destroying effect on cancer cells. Sarah Gray in her article on oleocanthal writes: “In vitro evidence has shown some promising results relating to phenolic compounds in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and their ability to inhibit the initiation of metastases of several types of cancer. The COX-2 enzyme has been implicated in the pathogenesis of several cancers, making oleocanthal a compound of interest for future cancer research".

It has also been postulated that oleocanthal, together with other phenolics found in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, may exert a neurotherapeutic effect on the brain, which is also supported by the low incidence of neurodegenerative diseases in populations who regularly consume Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

So how much oleocanthal should one look for in an extra virgin olive oil for it to demonstrate its health benefits? Again, as we keep stating, look for olive oil sellers who support their product by current lab reports. It is recommended to look for a Polyphenol Lab Analysis that shows Oleocanthal to be more than 100 mg/kg.

Both of our extra virgin olive oils in the Laurel & Flame ultra-premium collection meet this criterion with 137 mg/kg oleocanthal in Fresh and 219 mg/kg in Olympia PGI.

Choose the oil that is best for you!