Polyphenols

Polyphenols are a category of phytochemicals that naturally occur in plants. There are more than 8000 unique phenols found in fruits, vegetables, grains, and seeds.

Polyphenols are generally split into 4 categories: Flavonoids, Phenolic Acids, Lignans, and Others.

They give plants their vibrant colors and protect them against UV radiation, pathogens, harsh climate, and oxidative damage. Polyphenols are also responsible for the bitter flavors in many foods and are the backbone of healthy eating campaigns "Bitter is Better".

Polyphenols are responsible for the health benefits associated with many of the foods we eat like Apples (Phlorizin), Green Tea (Epigallocatechin), Red Wine (Quercetin & Resveratrol), Nuts (Eugenol & Kaempferol), Cocoa (Melein).

Polyphenols from nature are often converted into powders or replicated synthetically and used in pharmaceuticals as either medicine or supplements.

Olive Oil Polyphenols

Ligstroside Chemical Structure

Ligstroside Chemical Structure

Hydroxytyrosol Chemical Structure

Hydroxytyrosol Chemical Structure

Oleocanthal Chemical Structure

Oleocanthal Chemical Structure

Tyrosol Chemical Structure

In 2021 the World Olive Center for health - a non-profit organization that measure the phenolic content in olive oil and organizes seminars for olive oil researchers from around the world to come together - identified that only 5% of olive oils contain over 1200 mg/Kg Total Polyphenols and proposed that only olive oils with a phenolic content of over 500 mg/kg should be identified as high-phenolic.

Olive Oil Polyphenols Breakdown

Polyphenols depend on the Variety of Olive and other factors. We complete over 20 Polyphenols analyses each year for our olive oil and supply our olive oil to researchers around the world.

 

All of our olive oil is produced from our Olympia variety and some wild olives that grow naturally in our area, all of our olive oils have on average the same percentage of polyphenols regardless of method of analysis. Levels vary slightly each year depending on things like the weather.

Some Polyphenols, like Oleocanthal, are only available in olive oil as they are created in the oil during the milling procedure. They are not found anywhere else, either in the leaves or the fruit of the olive tree.

Tyrosol Derivatives

(Oleocanthal & Ligstroside Aglycone)

45%

Hydroxytyrosol Derivatives

(Oleacein & Oleuropein Aglycone)

55%

Interested in more information about how we make olive oil with such high levels of polyphenols?

Read all about How we Make our Olive Oil here.

 

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Olive oil can contain over 30 natural phenolic compounds, making it one of the richest phenolic plants in nature.

 

The main Polyphenols in Olive Oil are:

  • Basic Compounds

    • Hydroxytyrosol

    • Tyrosol

  • Complex Compounds​

    • Oleocanthal

    • Oleacein

    • Oleuropein

    • Ligstroside

As olive oil ages and oxidizes, the more complex Polyphenols (Oleocanthal, Oleacein, Oleuropein, and Ligstroside) break down into Hydroxytyrosol and Tyrosol. 

In the past, research has focused on the total Polyphenol content, with a distinction between Tyrosol and Hydroxytyrosol derivatives. Recent studies have started to focus more on specific phenols.

A recent study focused on neurodegenerative diseases found that Oleocanthal reacts in the body with Glycine to create a compound they named Oleoglycine which works as an antioxidant in brain cells.

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