High Polyphenols Olive Oil: The Ultimate Guide to a Healthy Lifestyle

We get this question all the time. When embarking on a quest for the healthiest olive oil, consumers are led to high-polyphenol EVOOs, a term most often synonymous with great health benefits. High phenolic extra virgin olive oil is sometimes described even as an elixir, a magic potion, and a remedy to the symptoms of a high-stress lifestyle. But what exactly are polyphenols? What is considered a high level in extra virgin olive oil? And why do you never find the polyphenol content on the label of any EVOO at your local grocery store?

In this article, we will explain a few key aspects of olive oil’s myths and science and why the highest concentration of polyphenols rightfully embodies the essence of wellness. We’ll unveil the significance of these potent compounds, guiding you to make informed choices for a healthier diet.

The Role of Polyphenols in Olive Oil and Human Wellness

Learning about what we eat and how to adopt a healthy diet involves understanding polyphenols’ pivotal role in EVOO. Polyphenols are naturally occurring in plants and act as the plant’s defense against threats. They play a similar protective role in our health. Studies show that by consuming only 0.5 tablespoons a day, these potent antioxidants can:

All this while also being responsible for preserving the organoleptic qualities of the extra virgin olive oil. This simultaneously makes polyphenols the guardians of olive oil’s integrity and our wellness champions! The results of all these scientific studies and lab tests validate polyphenol’s profound impact on our health, underscoring the necessity of making polyphenol-rich EVOO a staple in our diet. Below is a helpful diagram from the Harvard study on the Consumption of Olive Oil and Risk of Total and Cause Specific Mortality Among US Adults.

How to Ensure High Phenolic Levels as an Olive Oil Producer

The olive varietal is the most crucial aspect that influences the level of polyphenols in the oil. Here in Umbria we are lucky to have Moraiolo. Not only is it a very resistant tree that easily withstands droughts and parasites and can thrive on the rocky soil of our mountains, it’s also well regarded for its high level of polyphenols.

The second most important aspect is using proper techniques during harvest. It’s important to monitor the ripening process in order to schedule when to pick. The olives need to be picked before maturity, while the fruits are still green. Then they must be processed  within 24 hours of picking. 

Lastly, the extraction process is the cornerstone for producing a premium extra virgin olive oil – not only with a superior polyphenol content but also with a rich aroma and flavor complexity. This is often referred to as “cold pressing” or “mechanical”. We’ll discuss the subject of olive oil extraction more in-depth in a separate post, but suffice to say that there is no press involved at any time during the process. That is a traditional expression still used and applied to the modern technology. In reality, the fruits are macerated and put through a centrifuges. At our mill they even go one step further and use ultrasonic technology that extracts more polyphenols – the only one of it’s kind in Italy! Regardless, the key points are that it has to be a low-temperature, gentle extraction process to ensure the preservation of polyphenols, offering us olive oil in its most raw form. All of this is responsible for the creation of a new generation of extra virgin oil that are a much better product than using traditional methods and a necessary step to create a super high phenolic extra virgin. 

Finally, the correct storage and packaging will preserve the polyphenols for longer and reduce the growth of peroxides.

How do you know if your olive oil is high in polyphenols?

We rely on laboratory testing and EU standards to check the quality of our olive oils. There are 3 parameters that are important to describe the quality of an extra virgin olive oil: Acidity, Peroxides and Polyphenols levels.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Acidity Levels

Acidity is an important quality parameter, and it’s influenced by the condition of the fruit (that’s why it is so important to process the olives immediately after harvest), contamination by natural parasites, and, finally, poor preservation. By law, the acidity limit for an olive oil to be labelled as Extra Virgin is 0.8%, however in a quality extra virgin olive oil the values are much lower (0.1-0.3%). For values above 2% we are getting into lampante oil territory (literally lamp oil). But did you know that you can blend lamp oil with a low acidity oil and label it as extra virgin? That’s why it’s important to know the origin of the oils used in a blend and check the harvest date on the label. If you don’t see an harvest date on the bottle it most likely means that it’s a blend of oils from different years.

Peroxides, the Story of Olive Oils

How long does olive oil last in your kitchen pantry? Is there an expiration date? The answer can be challenging to find. Unfortunately, unlike wine, which betters as it ages, olive oil starts a process of oxidation from day one. This is why it’s important to properly store your EVOO properly, to slow the speed of its oxidation. One of our bottles of EVOO, for example, can last up to 24/36 months if properly sealed. Once you open the bottle and let oxygen in, that time is reduced to 2-3 months.

Peroxides are the indicator of the level of oxidation that the olive oil has reached, aka the age of the oil. The EU has set the max level of peroxides to 20. Of course the lower the better.

Ideal Usage and Storage for Maximizing Health Benefits

To preserve the beneficial effects of olive oil, particularly its polyophenols concentration, storing it properly is key. We recommend keeping your olive oil in a dark, cool place away from direct sunlight to maintain its polyphenol content. When using olive oil, consider adding it to dishes after cooking or in cold dishes to retain its health properties. And remember, oxygen is it’s worst enemy so once you pop that bottle open don’t leave half empty bottles for long!

Identifying the Olive Oils Richest in Polyphenols

In our quest for the most beneficial olive oil, we realized that Moraiolo from Umbria always emerges as a shining star. Harvested early and processed immediately to preserve freshness, it boasts an unparalleled polyphenol content. This exceptional variety not only offers a distinct grassy taste with a peppery finish but also encapsulates the essence of high-polyphenol olive oil, making it a prime choice for those seeking the utmost in health benefits. The polyphenol count, bitterness, and pungency are not just markers of quality but indicators of the oil’s health-promoting prowess, underscoring its vital role in a wellness-focused diet.lowers

Polyphenols Laboratory Test

At the end of the day, the only way to really ensure you have a polyphenol rich olive oil is to send a sample to a specialized lab. So that’s exactly what we did. We sent samples of our Originale 2023 to have a series of tests done. The first one is the most common and gives you the values for the 3 fundamental indicators of quality for an extra virgin olive oil.

The second test instead analizes the individual content of the different kind of polyphenols present in Olivando EVOO. As you can see from the slides, it is a different methodology, therefore the results are slightly different. This is sometimes a point of contention among olive oil producers because, to be comparable, the tests have to follow the same methodology. Regardless, the results of both tests speak for themselves!

Creative Culinary Ideas to Enhance Your Meals with Polyphenol-Rich Olive Oil

Infusing your diet with polyphenol-rich olive oil can be both delicious and nutritious. Try drizzling it over salads, mixing it into dips like hummus, using it as a base for homemade pesto or taken as a daily supplement. The rich flavors elevate your meals and contribute to your overall health. We have a small collection of fun recipes for all season that rely on high quality EVOO as a main ingredient. By making it a staple in our culinary repertoire, we take a significant step towards a healthier, more vibrant life.

Understanding Pricing, Availability, and Quality Marks

Now that you know a bit more about what it takes to create a high polyphenol olive oil, you can also appreciate that, as a premium product, it often comes at a higher price due to limited production, manual hand harvesting, small batch processing, and environmentally conscious agricultural practices. Availability can vary depending on the season, so it’s wise to research brands and look for quality marks or certifications that indicate a genuinely high-polyphenol product – like we do!

Why High-Polyphenol Olive Oil is an Investment in Your Health

Choosing high-polyphenol olive oil is an investment in our health that come with an array of numerous health benefits. The peppery burn we experience when consuming these oils is a sign of the presence of oleocanthal, an indicator of the oil’s anti-inflammatory properties. This small change in our diet can lead to significant improvements in our health and longevity.

Conclusion and Final Considerations

If you have read everything till now you deserve to know the answer to the main question at the beginning of this post. WHY THERE IS NEVER AN INDICATION OF THE POLYPHENOLS CONTENT ON THE LABEL OF ANY EVOO?

At this point, you may have already guessed what the answer is. Unfortunately, polyphenol levels are not going to stay the same as time goes by. We received test results of our 2023 Originale in March 2024, so those numbers are at the highest level they will ever be. We do our best to pack and preserve our oil in the best way possible. But you have to do your part: enjoy it quickly.

Buy some high polyphenols olive oil!

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