Reading time: 2 min
Olive oil is the best condiment and a fundamental element of the Mediterranean diet.
It is consumed and appreciated all around the world for its many organoleptic and health-giving qualities.
The best olive oils are also astonishingly delicious, and they enhance the tastes of foods in ways we never imagined.
Fresh, high-quality extra virgin olive oil is one of the world's healthiest foods, proven to help reduce and prevent diseases as it contains many antioxidants and phenolic compounds.
There is so much talk about polyphenols. What are polyphenols?
Polyphenols are micronutrients that we get through extra virgin olive oil. They're packed with antioxidants and potential health benefits. Polyphenols are a crucial component to Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Olive oil is a source of at least 30 phenolic compounds that are strong antioxidants and radical scavengers.
The main phenolic compounds are hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein. These two compounds give extra-virgin olive oil its bitter, pungent taste, and they have strong antioxidant activity.
Polyphenols furnish our immune system, protect us from heart diseases and display anticancer activity as they act as free radicals traps. They also have a proven positive effect on diabetes, rheumatoid problems, ageing processes, liver disease, epigenetic changes and many other diseases.
Polyphenols in the Mediterranean olive oils
Aristoil is a new EU-funded Interreg MED project that has been trying to improve the competitiveness of the Mediterranean olive oil sector while educating consumers about high-phenolic olive oil's health benefits.
According to their research that tested more than 4,000 oils, as much as 97% of Croatian oils have a high proportion of polyphenols with an average share of 655 mg/kg, of the minimum 250 mg/kg prescribed by the EU. Spain has 95% of the oils that meet this requirement, and their average phenol content is lower - 521 mg/kg. Greek oils are at about 70%, Cypriot at 60%, and Italian at 55%, with their average phenol content significantly lower.
Apart from its beneficial fatty acids, are there any vitamins in olive oil?
Olive oil is rich in vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins - A, D, E and K. Vitamin A is paramount for the physiology of our vision, it has a beneficial effect on the heart and circulatory system. It also shields the skin and mucous membranes from various infections and infectious diseases.
It's also worth mentioning that olive oil carries the same substance as ibuprofen - oleocanthal. This bitterness-related substance has an anti-inflammatory effect. This explains why good olive oil should also be bitter as it guarantees its healing and protective effects on the body.