On Polyphenols

The presence of naturally occurring anti-oxidants in olive oil is what sets it apart from other vegetable oils and as a sort of a super food. The polyphenol count of an olive oil is an important aspect of it when it comes to evaluating its goodness. Not all olive oils are alike when it comes to the polyphenol count; in fact, it’s one of the elements that most differentiates olive oils from each other.

Polyphenols present in the olive are abounding. From this point of view, the amount of them that are extracted and passed into olive oil is rather small. Yet, this presence will significantly determine the sensorial characteristics, durability, and integrity of the olive oil in question. In order to ensure the passage of polyphenols from the olive into olive oil will be a successful one, several steps are to be taken with great care.

These steps start at the olive orchard, continue through the harvest, transportation, and handling of the olives, and follow through the different instances of milling, and the storing of the olive oil. The main factors of the success and stability of this passage are: Cultivars (some cultivars are genetically richer than others, among those with highest count are Coratina, Picual, Mission, Moraiolo, and Picholine), the irrigation and rainfall, how healthy olives are before and after harvest, time between harvest and milling, type of crusher, length and temperatures at processing, exposure to oxygen, amount of water used in the milling process, filtration (or absence of it), and proper storage.

Without going too much into the technical aspects of olive oil making, it can be said that polyphenols are easily ruined/lost if the process is done without awareness of what’s at risk, that is, if the milling is aimless in this regard. The same can be said if the milling equipment has not been designed to support polyphenol extraction. It also happens when trying to maximize yield and secondary negative process (such as the oxidation of polyphenols and the increase of peroxides) compromise good results. Perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of these phenols appearing in olive oil is that they’re fat-soluble. Most polyphenols, in nature, are water-soluble find more info. The way each group impacts our health is altogether different: water-soluble polyphenols, as found in wine, green tea, or pomegranate juice, get destroyed in large numbers when meeting gastric acid in our stomachs during digestion.

Conversely, fat-soluble polyphenols have a fat-shield, which allows them to survive much better in this undertaking, helping them reach the small intestine and then the blood stream. Ultimately, they’re absorbed into the fatty outer layer or our cells, offering extra protection against free radicals. Excellent news regarding this understanding came from the European Union, with the resolution 432/2012, which states: “Polyphenols in olive oil contribute to the protection of hematic lipids from oxidative stress.

This effect is achieved with the daily consumption of 20grams of olive oil.” (Hematic lipids refer to blood fats and 20 grams are 0.70 oz.) Can any olive oil say that on their label? No. The EU law allows it only with olive oils with a polyphenol content of 250mg/kg (250 ppm) or more. Since olive oil polyphenols are great anti-inflammatories, it is estimated that  consumption of 20 grams, on a regular basis, will provide the equal of 1/10 of the adult dose of ibuprofen. Interestingly enough, people living in the Mediterranean basin — for which olive oil is primary fat — have a very low incidence of diseases triggered by inflammatory processes.

All Pacific Sun olive oils would qualify for this (to see the polyphenol count of our blends please go to: http://www.pacificsunoliveoil.com/blog/70/Pacific-Sun-Olive-Oils-Under-the-microscope-2015/). We hope that soon, the FDA will take note of this and allow good olive oil producers to offer consumers the opportunity to benefit from this information. There are many reasons to use and enjoy EVOO, this nutritional, healthful aspect of it is an excellent one. And choosing olive oils acknowledging this aspect will be, with time — as it’s happening in several emerging markets — a healthy second nature. Salud! On behalf of the Pacific Sun Olive Oil team, Pablo

Posted on Categories General, Health, Olive Oil 101