Why Some Extra Virgin Olive Oil Is Especially Good For You

Some extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is high phenolic olive oil—that is, it contains a lot of phenolic compounds, which are also called polyphenols. Recent scientific research suggests that extra polyphenols mean extra health benefits. If you want this added nutritional value, look for early harvest extra virgin olive oils made from unripe olives, and be sure your EVOO has been produced and stored with great care to preserve its healthy compounds. Polyphenols have been judged so important that there is an official EU health claim about some of them.

The EU Health Claim about Olive Oil Polyphenols

According to Commission Regulation (EU) No 432/2012 of 16 May 2012, which was approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), “Olive oil polyphenols contribute to the protection of blood lipids from oxidative stress.” This claim “may be used only for olive oil which contains at least 5 mg of hydroxytyrosol and its derivatives (e.g. oleuropein complex and tyrosol) per 20 g of olive oil.” It does apply to extra virgin olive oils containing the phenolic compounds oleacein and oleocanthal, for example.

If 20 g of an extra virgin olive oil with at least this quantity of the specified phenolic compounds is consumed daily, the health claim implies but does not state, it may help protect the body from a variety of diseases related to oxidative stress.

 

These diseases include

  • stroke
  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Parkinson’s
  • atherosclerosis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • cardiovascular diseases

 

Since the health claim was approved in 2012, numerous researchers have dedicated themselves to exploring its implications, as well as investigating extra virgin olive oil’s other possible health benefits. Many recent scientific studies go farther than the EU health claim to offer support for EVOO’s antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anticarcinogenic potential. The nonprofit World Olive Center for Health and other organizations have shared many promising results.