The Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil From The Foothills Of The Atlas Mountains
Updated September 21st 2021
Morocco : An ‘Undiscovered’ Source For Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil
When we think of traditional Extra Virgin Olive Oil producing regions, Morocco may not be the first country that springs to mind. But this bountiful country, rich in geographic diversity, is the most exciting new entrant to the arena of extra virgin olive oil production.
Morocco is proud of its thriving agricultural sector, a key part of which is olive cultivation and the production of olive oil.
Countries more traditionally associated with centuries of harvesting the humble olive for oil production have faced major challenges of late, falling prey to a disease called Xyella which is spread by sap-sucking insects and has devastated olive and fruit orchards across Southern Europe. In particular, the outbreak has amplified problems in Italy’s strained olive oil sector. In 2018, the country reported a 57% drop in its olive harvest compared to 2017 – a 25-year low. Researchers blamed a frosty spring followed by a summer drought. This weakened the olive trees and left them even more susceptible to infection.
So, while you may reach for your own ‘comfort zone’ olive oil from one of the Mediterranean regions, it could be time to widen your tastes and opt for the unique quality and flavour of Morocco Gold Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
For health conscious, discerning food lovers across all cultures and culinary backgrounds, Morocco Gold is a natural, unfiltered, ultra-premium, polyphenol rich extra virgin olive oil, whose exquisite taste and health enhancing qualities are guaranteed by our rigorous testing, provenance and authenticity, and strict adherence to single estate sourcing, with no blending or mixing.
Morocco is on pace to be the fifth largest producer of olive oil in the 2020/21 crop year, according to data published by Juan Vilar Strategic Consultants.The North African country is expected to produce 140,000 tons of olive oil in the current crop year.
Where Are Morocco Gold Olives Sourced?
The Morocco Gold olive growing area is 180 kms and about 4 hours drive north east from Marrakesh. It is situated in a raised valley in the foothills of the magnificent Atlas mountains in the Azilal Province which is part of the Beni Mellal region
This elevated valley has an altitude varying between 700m and 900m along its 40kms. This creates its own micro-climate and terroir with temperatures generally 2c below the coastal plain in the daytime and 5c at night-time. These differences create unique high-quality olive growing conditions which are concentrated in the eastern half of the valley.
We at Morocco Gold are delighted to know that our customers take such an interest in how our olive plants are grown as we do and our proud to share the delicate process in detail with you here.
As you will see, nothing is left to chance!
Harvesting Morocco Gold Olives
Harvesting olives re-enacts an event that has taken place for centuries. The farmers and their families have nurtured their olive trees and their harvest with care and attention for generations.
Fruiting sizing and assessment of the maturity of the olive is carried out prior to harvesting. The planned date of harvest is agreed based on the maturity of the olives, also the generations of experience of the olive farmers. Morocco Gold olives are hand-harvested early in the season when the fruit is young.
Our aim at Morocco Gold is to achieve the optimum balance between the level of polyphenols present in our extra virgin olive oil and its taste. Research has shown that high levels of polyphenols deliver the numerous health benefits to our heart, cardiovascular system, digestive system as well as to our cognitive functions. Polyphenols also produce the distinctive ‘peppery’ sensation when tasted, which in some olive varieties can feel somewhat ‘aggressive’ if you are not used to it. The wonderful thing about Morocco Gold extra virgin olive oil is that even with its high polyphenol count it retains its fresh fruity flavour without being too ‘aggressive’ to produce a wonderfully balanced, health rich extra virgin olive oil. The following shows the importance of harvest timing.
Morocco Gold olives are normally pressed around the end of October / November when the fruit is still young but the polyphenol levels are at their optimum. This does however have a huge impact on olive oil yield. The olives are smaller, the amount of oil yielded is much lower, but the quality is at its best.
Olives picked later in the harvesting season will produce more oil, however this will be of a lower quality. This is one of the reasons why high-quality extra virgin olive oil like Morocco Gold is slightly more expensive.
A new harvest is always exciting for the team at Morocco Gold. It brings freshness, enriched flavours, and a sense of renewal to our team and happy customers alike.
This year, however, harvest time has also brought the good news that our Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a low acidity of 0.2% and the highest ever levels of polyphenols seen in our high-quality oil to date.
But what exactly is all the fuss about Polyphenols and why is it important to choose an Extra Virgin Olive Oil with high levels of this compound? There are many highly complex and scientific answers to this question but we will summarise our top five.
1/ There Is A Direct Link Between Polyphenol Count And Purity Of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
|3,4 DHPEA-EDA||85 mg/kg|
|Ligstroside aglycone (p, HPEA-EA)||20 mg/kg|
|Oleuropein aglycone (3,4 DHPEA-EA)||71 mg/kg|
|Oleocanthal p, HPEA-EDA||65 mg/kg|
|Polyphenols Total||644 mg/kg|
The type and concentration of polyphenols present in extra virgin olive oil is influenced by the extraction / pressing process. To be extra virgin olive oil, the extraction needs to be done solely by mechanical means and at low temperatures. This has a direct effect on the resulting polyphenol content. There also must be no mixing or blending with other oils and no chemical additives. This is how the natural goodness and health enriching qualities of the extra virgin olive oil is preserved. At Morocco Gold, extraction of the oil is carried out at precisely controlled temperatures and nothing is added or taken away at the end of the process.
3/ Polyphenols Have Anti-inflammatory Properties.
Extra Virgin olive oil contains numerous phenolic compounds that exert potent anti–inflammatory actions. According to The National Library of Medicine the Oleocanthal contained in extra virgin oliveoil possesses similar anti-inflammatory properties to ibuprofen. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as aspirin, paracetamol, and ibuprofen, can be differentiated from steroids because they have far fewer secondary effects. NSAIDS have proven to have very beneficial effects in diseases that involve chronic inflammation processes, such as degenerative and neurodegenerative illnesses (Alzheimer). The concentration of Oleocanthal (Ligstroside aglycone (p, HPEA-EA)) in Morocco Gold is 20 mg/kg
3/ Polyphenols Have Excellent Antioxidant Qualities.
The polyphenols in Morocco Gold Extra Virgin Olive Oil act as an antioxidant which means that these compounds minimize free radicals in the body. The antioxidants affect the human health in various way from improving body functions and digestions to skincare. The antioxidants can fight off cell damage in the body and enhance the body’s immunity to fight off diseases.
Polyphenols furnish the immune system, protect us from heart diseases and display anticancer activity by acting, essentially, as free radicals traps.
They can help prevent cellular damage from free radicals that occur with pollution, smoking, eating rancid foods, and as a by-product of normal metabolism.
4/ Polyphenols Can Help Guard Against Alzheimer’s Disease
Another polyphenol compound contained in Morocco Gold is called Oleuropein aglycone, which is derived from the de-glycosylation of oleuropein that exists in the leaves and stones of the olive fruit during the maturation period and is obtained during the pressing of the olives. Oleuropein aglycone (or OA) is getting more and more global attention within the scientific and medical communities due to its biological properties including in anti-Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a high social impact disease that represents approximately 55–60% of all dementias and affects 6% of the elderly. AD is marked by cognitive degradation with a progressive impact on daily living.
Amyloid β (Aβ) deposits and oligomers are found in AD. Recently reported findings indicate that OA administration to mice can improve memory and behavioural performance by interfering with Aβ build-up. In addition, OA provides neuroprotection to cultured neuronal cells by preventing Aβ build-up, decreasing aggregate cytotoxicity, and counteracting related neuro-inflammation.
This suggests that OA administration could be regarded as a new way to prevent and cure Alzheimer’s disease.
5. Polyphenols Can Help Treat Osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is currently, the most frequent cause of pain, deformity and dysfunction in the elderly. Two polyphenols from extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), oleocanthal (OLC) and ligstroside aglycone (LA), plus a chemically modified acetylated ligstroside aglycone (A-LA), and two marine polyunsaturated fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), were examined as potential anti-inflammatory agents for OA. cetylated ligstroside showed the most promising results for implementation in treating OA as it reduced the expression of pro-inflammatory genes such as inducible nitric oxide (iNOS), matrix metalloprotease-13 (MMP13) and interleukin-1β (IL1B) at both RNA and protein levels; decreased nitric oxide (NO) levels from cartilage explants and also reduced proteoglycan (PG) losses in human osteoarthritic cartilage explants and chondrocytes.
Recently, data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI) have demonstrated that adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated not only with better quality of life but also, significantly, with a lower prevalence of OA. Given that the general population can be viewed as at risk in the development of OA in later life, an approach that relies on dietary modification is attractive in terms of risk / benefit and, potentially, an approach that is more likely to be implementable.
Indeed, as an alternative to traditional treatments, alternative modalities have come to the fore including the effects of polyphenols as non-invasive treatments, based on the evidence that epigenetic changes are triggered by dietary nutrients and contribute to the prevention of a number of diseases.
Morocco Gold Supports Women in Agriculture.
‘The Sisters’ – harvesting Morocco Gold Olives
Women make up, on average, 43 percent of the agriculture labor force in developing countries, and 50 percent or more in some parts of Africa, yet they make up less than 20 percent of all land holders and have limited access to seeds, fertilizer, equipment, financing and training.
Strengthening women’s land and property rights empowers women to participate in community organizations and gives them greater influence over household income and expenditures, which typically helps to reduce household poverty and benefit children.
Moroccan Cooking With Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Now that you know just how special Moroccan Extra Virgin Olive Oil is, we want to leave you with an idea for how to incorporate this ‘liquid gold’ into a traditional Moroccan dish.