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Properties and benefits of extra virgin olive oil polyphenols

Properties and benefits of extra virgin olive oil polyphenols

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Polyphenols: the secrets of extra virgin olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil is universally recognized as a pillar of well-being, but not everyone knows the key role that polyphenols play in defining it as an authentic health elixir.

These components are essential to protect the body from oxidative stress and to preserve youth.

In fact, there are countless studies that demonstrate the healthy advantages of certain bio-phenolic compounds such as Oleocanthal, Oleacin, Oleuropein, Hydroxytyrosol on our body.

For this reason, we recently undertook in-depth laboratory analyzes to highlight the richness of polyphenols, and in particular biophenols, present in our olive oil.

Our tests on our olive oils revealed excellent characteristics such as the very low level of peroxides and acidity, together with a high content of polyphenols.

But, before delving into the results of our analyses, it is important to clarify polyphenols and their fundamental importance for our health.

What are Polyphenols? The health benefits of polyphenols

Polyphenols represent a large set of natural organic compounds, synthesized not only by plants but also by bacteria, fungi and some animals. These elements are fundamental in the diet for their many healthy virtues.

These compounds are celebrated for their excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, capable of safeguarding cells from oxidative stress.

Among the benefits attributed to polyphenols, their ability to modulate cholesterol levels, limit the formation of atherosclerotic plaques (oxidation of low-density lipoproteins – LDL) and provide a powerful antibacterial action stand out.

Despite the wide recognition of their positive effects on health, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has not yet approved specific claims for polyphenol-based products.

The only authorization currently recognized by EFSA concerns olive tree polyphenols.

The health claim authorized by EFSA regarding extra virgin olive oil and its polyphenols is the following:

“Olive oil polyphenols contribute to the protection of blood lipids from oxidative stress”

This indication can be included on the label only for an extra virgin olive oil that contains at least 250 mg/kg of hydroxytyrosol and its derivatives (for example oleuropein and tyrosol).

The indication must be accompanied by information to the consumer that “the beneficial effect is obtained with a daily intake of 20 g of olive oil” .

And what is the difference between polyphenols and biophenols?

In reality, there is no substantial difference between polyphenols and biophenols. The two terms are often used as synonyms, particularly when referring to substances with antioxidant properties present in extra virgin olive oil.

In extra virgin olive oil: Polyphenols (or biophenols) are present in different forms, including:

  • the oleocanthal
  • oleacin
  • oleuropein
  • hydroxytyrosol

What does it mean to reduce oxidative stress?

Oxidative stress represents an imbalance between the production of free radicals and our body’s ability to neutralize them through antioxidant systems. This imbalance can cause significant damage to cells and tissues.

Free radicals are molecules generated as byproducts during cellular metabolic reactions, including normal cellular respiration. Under ideal conditions, the antioxidants present in our body counteract the effect of free radicals, maintaining balance and protecting cells from potential damage.

Generally, the body is able to establish and maintain a balance between these substances, but in the presence of certain factors this ability may fail.

Among the factors in question it is possible to include: an unbalanced diet, cigarette smoking, stress, consumption of high quantities of alcohol, exposure to pollutants, etc.

In fact, it is a completely natural physiological process which, if not controlled, can lead to an anomalous acceleration of the aging process and, consequently, can lead to the development of various pathologies.

What are the polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil?


Oleocanthal is a biophenol naturally present in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), known for imparting that typical “tingling” or “burning” sensation in the throat that is experienced when savoring a higher quality EVOO.

This distinctive effect, however, is not the only peculiarity of oleocanthal. Scientific research has revealed that this compound has anti-inflammatory properties comparable to those of ibuprofen, a well-known non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

Scientific investigations have shown its beneficial potential for individuals suffering from obesity and prediabetes. Studies indicate that oleocanthal can effectively contribute to weight loss, reduction of fasting blood glucose levels, and counteracting inflammation and oxidative stress.

Another particularly promising area of ​​research concerns the use of oleocanthal in the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.

Experiments have shown that oleocanthal promotes brain protection, mitigating inflammation and reducing the formation of plaques, both hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.


Oleacin, is another biophenol present in extra virgin olive oil, has demonstrated notable anti-inflammatory, antiatherosclerotic and antihypertensive properties.

This compound also acts as an inhibitor of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), a crucial mechanism in the regulation of metabolism and cell growth, which affects longevity and aging.

Recent studies also highlight how oleacin is mainly responsible for the positive effects of olive oil on the cardiovascular system.


Oleuropein is one of the most celebrated components of extra virgin olive oil, best known for its ability to lower blood pressure.

Recently, it was discovered that Oleuropein protects a part of the brain called the hypothalamus from oxidative stress, improving the function of mitochondria, the “power plants” of our cells, through the activation of specific signaling pathways.

But the benefits of Oleuropein go beyond blood pressure control.

This biophenol has been shown to have cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, anti-angiogenic, and neuroprotective functions, suggesting therapeutic potential for a variety of human disorders.

Oleuropein may reduce oxidative damage in specific areas of the brain affected by neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and may prevent toxic aggregation of proteins associated with Alzheimer’s.


Hydroxytyrosol is one of the hidden treasures in extra virgin olive oil, recognized for its extraordinary antioxidant properties.

In fact, thanks to its high capacity to absorb radical oxygen, even higher than that of green tea and coenzyme Q10, Hydroxytyrosol is a first-rate antioxidant.

Research has highlighted the potential of Hydroxytyrosol in preventing and treating neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s. These diseases may be linked to damage caused by free radicals and inflammation.

Hydroxytyrosol, through its antioxidant properties, could therefore offer a promising strategy to counteract these disorders.

This polyphenol has also shown notable effects in the prevention of cardiovascular events and diseases.

Although there have not yet been specific clinical studies on the action of hydroxytyrosol on cardiovascular disease in humans, current research suggests that it may have a key role in reducing platelet aggregation and offering protection against atherosclerosis.

What do the analyzes say about our extra virgin olive oil?

analisi e test olio extravergine di oliva coratina Oilalà

The time has come to share the results of the analyzes of our extra virgin olive oil from the 2023/2024 olive growing campaign.

At the moment the analyzes concern exclusively olive oils:

Analyzes of our other olive oils will soon be available.

These are not simple laboratory analyzes but are in-depth analyzes on the phenolic composition of our oils carried out by accredited and recognized centers in Europe and internationally.

The analyzes demonstrate our constant commitment to the pursuit of quality.

In summary:

  • Coratina Bio Olive Oil: with an acidity of 0.1%, peroxides at 7.5, and an excellent level of total polyphenols of 371 mg/kg, including 3 mg/kg of Hydroxytyrosol, 275 mg/kg of Oleuropein, 165 mg/kg of Oleocanthal, and 120 mg/kg of Oleacin.
  • Peranzana Bio Olive Oil: has an acidity of 0.24%, peroxides at 8.8, and a fantastic 399 mg/kg of total polyphenols, including 3 mg/kg of Hydroxytyrosol, 254 mg/kg of Oleuropein, 150 mg/ kg of Oleocantale, and 185 mg/kg of Oleacin
  • Coratina Olive Oil: with an acidity still lower than 0.1%, peroxides at 5.2, and total polyphenols at 366 mg/kg, including 279 mg/kg of Oleuropein, 214 mg/kg of Oleocanthal, and 141 mg/kg kg of Oleacin

These olive oils are a clear example of our dedication to producing excellence.

To get a general idea, the average value of oleocanthal and oleacin in southern Italian olive oils is respectively approximately: 160mg/kg and 180mg/kg

The complete analysis can be found here:

We share this data with pride and without hesitation because we are confident in the quality and integrity of our olive oils.

The low content of free fatty acids (maximum level by law is 0.8%) and the minimal level of peroxides (the maximum level by law is 20) are evidence not only of the freshness and green color of the olives at the time of harvest but also of our ability to preserve these qualities right up to your table.

This transparency is not only a demonstration of the trust we place in our processes and products, but also represents our promise to you: to offer you an extra virgin olive oil that is synonymous not only with excellent taste but also with health and well-being.

Extra virgin olive oil: an ally for your health

In conclusion, we hope that the information shared regarding our organic extra virgin olive oils and their beneficial properties will be of value to both you and your loved ones.

We are aware of the importance of transparent and detailed communication on the quality and benefits of our products.

For this reason, we are dedicating significant resources to develop even more in-depth and professional communication.

Our goal is to make it clear that not all extra virgin oils on the market offer the same benefits and to explain in detail why our olive oils stand out.

While the path to achieving this goal will take some time, we are confident that we can make it happen.

It is crucial, however, to maintain a balanced perspective.

Although extra virgin olive oil is rich in healthy components and can contribute significantly to well-being, it should never be considered a miracle remedy or a substitute for traditional medicine.

Instead, it should be seen as an integral part of a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and adequate physical activity.

Ultimately, our commitment is to offer a product that not only enriches your tables with its unique flavor, but which also contributes, in a real and tangible way, to your health and well-being.

Categorized: Blog Oilalà