While it is well-known that the monounsaturated fats in olive oil are a key component of the Mediterranean diet, the rich mixture of antioxidant polyphenols is equally important.
Olive oil is the only vegetable oil that contains perceptible amounts of polyphenols, and the virgin olive oils are the only quality grades that contain considerable quantities – with Super Premium olive oils topping the charts. Generally, the lower, ordinary grades of olive oil contain 50 ppm or less of polyphenols, depending on their percentage of refined olive oil. Since imports to the U.S. are commonly labeled ‘Extra Virgin’ without meeting the international quality standards, the polyphenol content maybe anywhere up to, or within the typical range for Extra Virgin, which is about 100 to 250 ppm. The polyphenol content of some conventionally milled Extra Virgin olive oils maybe as high as 500 ppm, depending on factors such as the olive cultivar and degree of ripeness, as well as the production and extraction technologies employed, and the age of the oil.
The low ppm of the machine harvested oils should not indicate any defect in their products or milling procedures. Their products are excellent, however, It is imposible to obtain high polyphenols with the type of trees, milling procedures, and harvesting procedures they must use to produce cheap oil. Polyphenols are only a small part the health benefits which olive oil provides. With machine harvest it is possible to produce an excellant oil for half the price. Only with machine harvest can olive oil be available to the masses.
In 2005 Staltontall Estate conducted extensive research to quantify Oleocanthal in our oils, other California artisan oils as well as off the shelf imports. We were successful in locating the remarcable polyphenol in our oils and some other Artisen California olis but not in off the shelf imports. Without the need for laboratory testing, you can detect the presence of Oleocanthal which induces a strong stinging in the throat. 2015’s Sir Richard’s is eaisly identifiable.
More experimentation will solidify our understanding of the dynamics involved, but it is safe to say that our olive oil is at the forefront of polyphenol extraction, and may be the healthiest olive oil you can find.
Scientists in Spain and Italy are actively engaged in studying all aspects of these polyphenol compounds, including their health benefits and methods to increase the concentration in Extra Virgin olive oils. Several recent studies are cited here, each with a link to the scientific abstract:
Gallina-Toschi T, Cerretani L, Bendini A, Bonoli-Carbognin M, Lercker G.
Oxidative stability and phenolic content of virgin olive oil: an analytical approach by traditional and high resolution techniques.
J Sep Sci. 2005 Jun;28(9-10):859-70.
“The amount of phenolic compounds extracted during production is fundamental for the oxidative and nutritional quality of the oil. … the amount of phenolic compounds in virgin olive oil can be influenced by different factors including the olive cultivar and degree of ripeness, as well as by production and extraction technologies.”
Read the abstract on www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Medina E, de Castro A, Romero C, Brenes M.
Comparison of the concentrations of phenolic compounds in olive oils and other plant oils: correlation with antimicrobial activity.
J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Jul 12;54(14):4954-61.
“The oils from olive fruits had a strong bactericidal action against a broad spectrum of microorganisms. … Most of the foodborne pathogens tested did not survive after 1 h of contact with olive oils. Results indicated that not all oils classified as “olive oil” had similar bactericidal effects and that this bioactivity depended on their content of certain phenolic compounds.”
Read the abstract on www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Romero C, Medina E, Vargas J, Brenes M, Castro AD
In Vitro Activity of Olive Oil Polyphenols against Helicobacter pylori.
J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Feb 7;55(3):680-6
“H. pylori is linked to a majority of peptic ulcers and to some types of gastric cancer, and resistance of the microorganism to antibiotic treatment is now found worldwide. … These results open the possibility of considering virgin olive oil a chemopreventive agent for peptic ulcer or gastric cancer…”