What is a High Phenolic Olive Oil and why is it good for you?

Updated: Feb 22




Health benefits, research and studies, tips for spotting and storing High Phenolic Olive Oil.


High Phenolic Olive Oils are those Olive Oils containing a high percentage of phenolic compounds which are directly related to the health benefits of olive oil. According to the EU Health Claim Labeling Regulation (432/2012), the claim may be used only for olive oil which contains at least 5mg of hydroxytyrosol and its derivatives (e.g. oleuropein complex and tyrosol) per 20g of olive oil. Consumers may experience the beneficial effects of olive oil with a daily intake of 20g of olive oil (2-3tbs). This daily intake of high phenolic olive oil contributes to the protection of blood lipids from oxidative stress. UC Davis, Harvard University, and many other research centers in the world embrace this idea and have backed it up with many pieces of research over the last ten years.


High Phenolic Olive Oils have been found to help:

· lower blood pressure

· protect the arteries from damage

· lower bad cholesterol

· reduce the risk for type II diabetes

· prevent many types of cancer

· prevent strokes

· fight premature aging

· decrease the risk for depression and dementia

· slow the progression of Alzheimer’s up to 40%

· reduce inflammations in the body


What are the phenolic compounds?


These are the organic compounds that are the by-products of plant synthesis and are known as phytochemicals. Phenols are regarded for their health-promoting properties and are found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes, beverages (coffee, tea, and wine), fats (olive oil) as well as in spices. However, there are phenolic compounds unique to olive oil that only occur during the crushing & malaxing process. There are 36 known phenolic compounds in olive oil. The two most widely researched for their health-protective benefits are Oleocanthal and Oleacein which are known for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.


The presence of Oleocanthal is indicated by the peppery effect on the back of the throat sometimes causing a cough reflex. Oleacein is known for the bitterness on the tongue. For people accustomed to purchasing olive oils from the supermarket (e.x. refined olive oil), these characteristics of pepperiness and bitterness are often mistaken as a defect in olive oil.


Phenolic content varies according to soil condition and weather patterns, olive variety, time of harvest (fruit ripening stage - the greener the olives the higher the phenolic content), milling procedures, etc. For example, bio-diversity within the olive grove adds to the richness of the soil and the nutrition available to the olive fruit. Rains, drought, or winds have a greater or lesser impact on phenolic content and the amount of olive oil produced depending on when they occur during olive fruit maturation.


For the consumer:


If you are purchasing a high phenolic olive oil for its health benefits, you should treat it as a food supplement and consume it daily and preferably raw on your foods and salads. If you want to cook or fry with olive oil you can use a more affordable Extra Virgin Olive Oil and keep your high phenolic EVOO for your daily self-care ritual!


It is recommended to use it quickly, before the Best Before date. Once opened it is critical to look after it to minimize the loss of the phenolic content and preserve the integrity of its health benefits.


Light, heat, air (oxygen), and time are enemies of any olive oil. Storing olive oil in a cool (15-18oC) dark place will prolong its qualities of extra virginity and high phenolic content.


You should store it in small tinted bottles of 250–1000ml out of the light in a cool place and don’t leave it by the stove or window while cooking.


Close the bottle well after every use. Phenolic compounds will simply do away from an open bottle within a short period of time. Keep in mind that high phenolic EVOO’s cost more than the majority of olive oils found in the market due to special cultivation, harvest, and milling processes that raise the labor cost.


We have started to discover and study high phenolic olive oils the last decade thanks to some visionary olive oil producers and university professors, who have taken risks to do things differently, to go against centuries of old traditions and create olive oils of high nutritional value; olive oils measurably different and more beneficial to humanity.


Anita Zachou

Agricultural Engineer – Expert Olive Oil Taster by Jaen University
Holistic Wellness Coach - Founder of Mykonos Olive Oil Tasting
Sources: Aristoleo, Olive Wellness Institute
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