Extra Virgin Olive Oil is probably the most extensively researched foodstuff on the planet and the health benefits are evidence based. Thanks to the recent spotlight on the Mediterranean Diet, extensive research has been done on the phytonutrient composition of olive oil. What has been discovered is an extensive list of phytonutrients; one of the most praised is its polyphenols. The amount of polyphenols found in extra virgin olive oil is truly amazing!
Polyphenols are a potent antioxidant – one that can decommission a nasty molecule in your body called free radicals. Free radicals can ricochet around inside your body and harm good cells. Antioxidants, such as the polyphenols found in extra virgin olive oil, work to neutralize free radicals; protecting the body from their harmful antics.
The high polyphenol content of Morocco Gold extra virgin olive oil is dependent on three factors. Firstly the variety of the olive, secondly the climate and terroire of the growing region and thirdly the actual time in the growing season that the crop is harvested.
What makes Morocco Gold Extra Virgin Olive Oil So Special?
Morocco Gold is pressed from the Picholine Marocaine, the only type of olive to go into Morocco Gold. Oil from this variety is renowned for it’s high polyphenol count, oxidative stability and longevity.
Our olives are grown in a valley that is about 2,000 feet above sea level. This helps to create the additional climatic challenges that encourage polyphenol uptake within the olive tree. It is also an area with naturally occurring high phenols in the soil itself.
In soils, phenols are released over extended period of time from decomposing plant materials. This causes complex organic compounds to be slowly oxidized or to break down into simpler forms of sugars, amino sugars, aliphatic and phenolic organic acids. These are further transformed into microbial biomass or are reorganized, and further oxidized, into humic assemblages (fulvic and humic acids), which bind to clay minerals.
There has been a long debate about the ability of plants to uptake humic substances through their root systems and to metabolize them. There is now a consensus about how humus plays a hormonal role rather than simply a nutritional role in plant physiology. Olive trees grown in ‘challenging’ conditions encourage the uptake of naturally occurring phenols in the soil. This in turn aids the circulatory system within the olive tree, with the phenols eventually finding their way to the olive fruit itself.
Thirdly, our olives are picked when the fruit is young and green. As the olives age on the tree, the colour of the olive changes to red and then black, the size of the olive increases thus producing more oil, but the polyphenol level decreases. There is a great deal of expertise within the farming community where we source our oil to ensure that the harvest is collected at the optimum time to maximise the polyphenol level.
Types Of Polyphenols
There are a number of different types of polyphenols in Extra Virgin olive oil, including oleuropein, tyrosol, hydroxytyrosol, oleocanthal and oleacein. Each are considered extremely strong antioxidants, and are linked to a number of different benefits, including:
- Maintenance of normal blood pressure
- Keeping the upper respiratory tract healthy
- Protecting proteins in the brain that are involved in memory, learning and thinking
- Helping to keep blood sugar under control
- Treating the symptoms of and/or preventing type 2 diabetes
- Protecting blood lipids from oxidative damage
- Acting as an anti-inflammatory
Polyphenols Shown to Have Distinct Anti-Bacterial Properties
Research on the antibacterial activity of olive varieties grown in southern Italy have also now shown promise for natural treatments against E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Healthy Compounds In Extra Virgin Olive Oil Still Present After Exposure To Heat
New research confirms the key components in extra virgin olive oil survive temperature. Furthermore, the most healthy compounds found in extra virgin olive oil do not disappear when the oil is used for cooking. According to new research published in the scientific journal, Antioxidants. The implication may have an impact on future nutritional guidelines.
In conclusion, researchers from the University of Barcelona focused on evaluating how the attributes of olive oil change when it is used for sautéing in a household kitchen. After cooking at a moderate temperature, (polyphenols and antioxidants) were still in the oil and in concentrations high enough to meet the E.U. parameters. Meaning this oil should be used for cooking.– Julián Lozano Castellón, project coordinator.