Another Of The Wonderful Polyphenols Found In Our Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Updated November 26th 2021
- Lignans: A Major Polyphenol Found In Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- New Research : Polyphenols In Extra Virgin Olive Oil And Reductions In Breast Cancer Risk.
Lignans : A Major Polyphenol Found In Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Because extra virgin olive oil is an important component of the Mediterranean diet, increasing levels of research has been carried out to determine the source of the health benefits associated with extra virgin olive oil, in particular the major antioxidant polyphenols it contains. Structural analysis includes spectroscopic techniques, including mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) testing.
The resulting data shows that lignans (+)-1-acetoxypinoresinol and (+)-pinoresinol are major components of the polyphenols found in extra virgin olive oil. Lignans are polyphenols that accumulate in the woody tissues, seeds and roots of many plants including olives. These molecules are thought to be directly involved in the defence mechanisms of plants and now have been found to be useful for humans. Foods containing high amounts of lignan precursors have been found to be protective against breast, colon, and prostate cancer.
These lignans, which are potent antioxidants, are absent in seed oils and virtually absent in refined virgin oils. As with other polyphenols, there is considerable variation in lignan concentrations in different varieties of olive.
Source: PubMed (nih.gov)
New Research: Polyphenols In Extra Virgin Olive Oil And Reductions In Breast Cancer Risk.
Javier Menendez from the Catalan Institute of Oncology and Antonio Segura-Carretero from the University of Granada in Spain led a team of researchers who set out to investigate which parts of olive oil were most active against cancer.
Menendez said, “Our findings reveal for the first time that all the major complex phenols present in extra-virgin olive oil drastically suppress overexpression of the cancer gene HER2 in human breast cancer cells”.
Extra virgin olive oil is the oil that results from pressing olives without the use of heat or chemical treatments. It contains phytochemicals that are otherwise lost in the refining process. Menendez and colleagues separated the oil into fractions and tested these against breast cancer cells in lab experiments. All the fractions containing the major extra virgin phytochemical polyphenols (lignans and secoiridoids) were found to effectively inhibit HER2.
Although these findings provide new insights on the mechanisms by which good quality extra virgin olive oil rich in polyphenols might contribute to a lowering of breast cancer risk in a HER2-dependent manner, extreme caution must be applied when applying the lab results to the human situation. As the authors point out, “The active phytochemicals (i.e. lignans and secoiridoids) exhibited tumoricidal effects against cultured breast cancer cells at concentrations that are unlikely to be achieved in real life by consuming olive oil”.
Nevertheless, and according to the authors, “These findings, together with the fact that that humans have safely been ingesting significant amounts of lignans and secoiridoids as long as they have been consuming olives and extra-virgin oil, strongly suggest that these polyphenols might provide an excellent and safe platform for the design of new anti breast-cancer drugs”.
This continues our series of articles about the polyphenol content of our new harvest extra virgin olive oil and what they can do to improve our health. As we have reported, this year’s harvest has produced a low acidity level of 0.2% together with the highest level of polyphenols yet seen in our extra virgin olive oil of 644 mg/kg