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The Health Benefits of Polyphenols in EVOO

The Health Benefits of Polyphenols in EVOO

What are polyphenols?

Polyphenols are naturally occurring bioactive compounds that have antioxidant properties. They are found in many plant foods such as fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, tea, red wine, dark chocolate and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). 

Polyphenols give a plant its colour and their role is to defend the plants against aggressors such as ultraviolet light, insects and pathogens.

Increasing scientific interest suggests that when we eat polyphenol-rich foods their defence mechanisms can also help to protect us from cellular damage from free radicals (unstable atoms that can damage cells, causing illness and ageing) these are caused by aggressors like poor diet, smoking, pollution, UV light, x-rays, and industrial chemicals. 

EVOO is the main fat source of the Mediterranean diet. It has long been associated with a wide range of health benefits due to its monounsaturated fat content, but in the last few decades, there has been much scientific interest in its polyphenol compounds.

EVOO is one of the best sources of polyphenols, containing over 30 different kinds, most significantly tyrosols – including oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol and Oleocanthal but not all are found in every oil. This can depend on the olive variety, the region where the olives are grown, soil, climate, fruit yield per tree, production and agricultural techniques and ripeness at the time of harvesting. 

The high levels of polyphenols found in EVOO sets it apart from other vegetable oils. Even regular refined olive oil only contains trace amounts of the polyphenols. They are stripped during the refining process which involves heat and chemical treatments to remove impurities. 

Extra virgin olive oils typically have less than 100-250 mg/kg of total phenols, while robust oils generally have more than 250 mg/kg. 

The European Food Safety Authority only permits health claims for olive oil with levels above 250mg/kg. Scientific lab reports show that the Governor EVOO contains a consistent amount between 1000-1500 mg/kg total phenols.

This is why knowing the source of your extra virgin olive oil is so important and using the highest quality possible to ensure the greatest health benefits. The Governor olives are grown using organic methods, and they are harvested early at the height of their phenolic peak. The more robust and fresh an oil the higher the polyphenol content.

What are polyphenols

The health benefits of olive oil polyphenols and the Mediterranean diet.

Some experts regard EVOO as a superfood, primarily for its high polyphenol anti-ageing properties. and the main reason the Mediterranean diet helps prevent a host of chronic diseases.

Ageing is a natural and complex process, mainly by a decline in the function of cells, tissues and organs, which results in a greater risk of death. Lifestyle choices and our diet can affect our health, our life expectancy and the development of chronic disease risk including cancer, diabetes, heart and cardiovascular disease, obesity, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and neurodegenerative diseases.

In general, a whole array of evidence highlights the effectiveness of polyphenol compounds in delaying the ageing process. 

  • The BMJ Report #1 - Link
  • The MDPI Report #1- Link


1. Reduced Inflammation

Inflammation is a natural response to potential dangers and damage to organs in our body. However, it can lead to long-term health problems.

Several studies provide evidence that consuming extra virgin olive oil as part of your daily diet can help reduce inflammation, which experts believe may be the leading driver in several chronic diseases such as metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer's, arthritis, heart disease, cancer, and obesity.

The lack of anti-inflammatory drugs without any long-term side effects has led to the search for new active substances. Oleocanthal is a polyphenol only found in EVOO. It has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that work similarly to the NSAID Ibuprofen, one of the most prescribed drugs for inflammation. 

Oleocanthal, however is entirely natural and comes without the side effects of ibuprofen. A quick taste test will indicate the presence of Oleocanthal in an EVOO - you will notice a peppery kick on the back of the throat. The more intense the kick the higher the Oleocanthal content. 

Adding 2 tablespoons of high phenolic EVOO to your diet daily is enough to provide anti-inflammatory pain relief properties, which will help keep pain at bay.


2. Heart and cardio-protective 

Heart disease is characterised by chronic inflammation and numerous studies have concluded that consuming a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil can lower the risk of developing heart and cardiovascular disease. 

Extra virgin olive oil is a rich source of monounsaturated fats which helps to reduce the risk of getting heart diseases by lowering the levels of artery-clogging blood lipids. It is also packed with phenolic compounds which have powerful cardio-protective properties lowering the risk risk of high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) strokes, atrial fibrillation, heart attack and type 2 diabetes which puts you at a higher risk of heart disease. 

Studies show that supplementing with EVOO later in life can be preventative and reduce existing damage to the heart and arteries. 

  • The New England Journal of Medicine #1 
  • National Library of Medicine #1 - Link
  • American Heart Association #1 - Link
  • National Library of Medicine / PubMed #1 - Link
  • Associate Professor of Medicine and Department of Food Science and Technology #1 - Link
  • National Library of Medicine / PubMed #2 - Link
  • American Heart Association - Link


3. Metabolic syndrome 

Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that occur together, which increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. These conditions include high blood sugar, increased blood pressure, excess body fat around the waist, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. 

This published clinical study found that after 2 months of high phenolic EVOO supplementation led to a significant reduction in body weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, alanine transaminases (ALT) and fatty liver index (FLI) in MetS patients with hepatic steatosis a category of patients at high risk for developing future cardiometabolic events.

  • The MDPI Report #2 - Link


4. Role of Polyphenols in Cancer Prevention

Experts believe that following a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil helps in the prevention of cancer. 

Research shows the powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties found in EVOO, particularly Oleocanthal may play a role in reducing the risk of several types of cancer, including breast, colon rectal, prostate, blood -leukaemia by blocking the activity of these cancers by inhibiting the growth and development of cancerous cells. The levels of polyphenols found in different olive oils are what determine its anti-cancer effects.

Further long-term human studies need to be carried out but the results so far are promising. 

  • National Library of Medicine #2 - Link
  • National Library of Medicine / PubMed #3 - Link
  • Journal of the National Cancer Institute #4 - Link
  • National Library of Medicine / PubMed #5 - Link
  • National Library of Medicine / PubMed #6 - Link
  • National Library of Medicine / PubMed #7 - Link
  • The MDPI Report #3 - Link
  • National Library of Medicine #3 - Link


5. Brain health and mood 

A growing number of preclinical and clinical studies have evidenced that the regular consumption of extra virgin olive oil promotes brain health. The beneficial neuro-protective effects improve visual memory, and verbal fluency, delaying cognitive decline and the onset of dementia and Alzheimer's.

Other studies suggest that EVOO phenolic compounds may also play a role in reducing the risk of depression and may have beneficial effects on both mild and severe depression. The polyphenol compounds work gradually to improve a person's mental well-being by modulating and strengthening brain plasticity, cognition, mood, and behaviours.

  • The MDPI Report #4 - Link
  • National Library of Medicine / PubMed #8 - Link
  • National Library of Medicine / PubMed #9 - Link

Health Benefits of Polyphenols

A recent study for mild cognitive impairment using the The Governor EVOO - Link

  • The MDPI Report #5 - Link


6. Controlling blood sugar 

Experts believe that polyphenols help to lower blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. After a meal, polyphenols may help to slow the conversion of carbohydrates into simple sugars which results in less blood sugar spikes after eating meals. Large blood sugar spikes happening on repeat can increase the risk of health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Polyphenols may also help increase insulin secretion, a key hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. After eating, it's normal for blood sugar levels to rise. However, repeated, large blood sugar spikes can increase the risk of health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 

  • National Library of Medicine / PubMed #10 - Link
  • Associate Professor of Medicine and Department of Food Science and Technology #2- Link
  • National Library of Medicine / PubMed #11 - Link


7. Skin and wound healing 

Extra virgin olive oil has been used for centuries for its nourishing and protective benefits for the skin. Today it is found in many beauty products from soaps, scrubs shampoos and conditioners to anti-ageing and anti-wrinkle moisturisers, body creams, eye make-up removers and nail treatments.

It is a natural powerhouse of healthy skin promoting fatty acids, vitamin E, squalene and antioxidant polyphenols that inhibit the production of free radicals and slow down the signs of skin ageing such as wrinkles and skin elasticity and may also protect against oxidative stress from sun damage and pollution which can lead to skin cancer.

A recent study published in Nutrients provided evidence that the phenolic compounds found in EVOO- hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol, and Oleocanthal increase skin cell proliferation and improve the wound healing process in In vitro experiments using a type of human skin cells known as fibroblasts.

  • The MDPI Report #6 - Link


8. Bone and joint health 

Extra virgin olive oil has been studied extensively for its protective benefits in inflammatory autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Studies show that the polyphenols in EVOO Oleuropein and Oleocanthal EVOO help to effectively reduce inflammation improving arthritis symptoms such as swelling and joint pain joints.

Several studies have linked olive oil consumption to maintaining healthy bones. This includes reduced risk of hip fracture and improved bone density. 

  • National Library of Medicine / PubMed #12 - Link
  • Cambridge University Press #1 - Link
  • Sage Journals #1 - Link


9. Gut health

A growing area of interest in the field of polyphenols is their potential interactions with the gut microbiota. Polyphenols may have a positive effect on digestion and your overall gut health and think they may help to stimulate the growth of beneficial gut bacteria like Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. 

  • Frontiers Media #1 - Link


10. Weightloss 

The Mediterranean diet year after year is named the healthiest diet. Olive oil is central to that diet and is high in monounsaturated fat acids (MUFA) and low in saturated fats. 

These fatty acids can help with weight loss by keeping blood sugar levels stable and promoting the feeling of satiety (feeling full quickly and for longer). This helps to prevent binging and snacking on highly processed foods laden with refined oils. 

Studies show a decrease in obesity rates and obesity-related conditions such as high cholesterol and diabetes. Other studies show the polyphenols in EVOO help with fat breakdown, inhibiting fat production and improving insulin resistance. 

Studies have also found a correlation between increasing olive oil consumption and weight gain. 

  • American Diabetes Association #1 - Link
  • National Library of Medicine / PubMed #13 - Link
  • National Library of Medicine / PubMed #14 - Link
  • National Library of Medicine / PubMed #15 - Link
  • National Library of Medicine / PubMed #16 - Link
  • National Library of Medicine #4 - Link
  • National Library of Medicine #5 - Link