Olives are a common food for those who live near the Mediterranean Sea. The region is known for having delicious, healthy food that helps to extend the lives of those who reside there, and olives play a role in the healthier diet. Olive oil contains many of the nutrients and healthy aspects that makes olives so beneficial. Recent studies have found that EVOO has a wealth of phenolic compounds that enhance the health benefits, giving researchers greater insight into what makes it such a beneficial additional to Mediterranean food.
Here are the newly found phenolic compounds that help combat a variety of diseases.
Before going into detail about the newly found compounds, it is good to have a basic understanding of the phenolic compound classification.
Naturally occurring phenolic compounds have been used for medicinal purposes for a long time, but they have become more interesting to the medical industry recently as a possible way of preventing cancer, as well as a safer type of cancer treatment. On a molecular level, these compounds can help inhibit cancerous cell growth and slow the cell cycle. This means that phenolic compounds can act as a way of slowing the growth and spread of cancerous cells. Phenolic compounds also have antioxidants.
Most phenolic compounds are found in fresh vegetables, which was why it was surprising to find them in EVOO. While EVOO is made from very fresh olives, it is stored long past what would be the shelf life of an olive. The levels of phenolic compounds in EVOO are not as high as they would be in a plate of fresh vegetables, but there are significant quantities.
Though a number of phenolic compounds were identified, four compounds stood out.
Also called 3,4-(dihydroxyphenyl)ethanol, oleacein is associated with preventing or decreasing the progress of the ailment atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the clogging of arteries by fatty deposits, meaning that oleacein can be incredibly beneficial to the heart. It also is known to act as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-proliferative, and antimicrobial.
The ratio of oleacein to other phenolic compounds can vary significantly. To get the benefits of this compound, you will want to research the ratio of oleacein before making a purchase of extra virgin olive oil.
Oleocanthal is a well known anti-inflammatory compound, and is often used to by those who suffer from chronic inflammation as a more natural remedy. It is also used to help those with various types of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer. For many people with chronic inflammation, particularly inflammation of the joints, diet can be a contributing factor to the problems. EVOO can provide a way of eating healthier without having to eat bland food.
Both of these compounds are less understood and defined. Often compounds are misclassified as being one of the two, making it more difficult to understand their health benefits. However, they are known to assist in fighting cardiovascular diseases.
The study was conducted by researchers who screened 2,000 varieties of olive oil. The analysis used Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, or NMR, to determine the chemical makeup of the oils. Only EVOO were used to ensure that the screening did not include any additives or dilutions. Both oleokoronal and oleomissional were found at lower concentrations than oleocanthal and oleacein. Not all of the screened varieties contained the phenolic compounds, which means that different brands and types have fewer health benefits. The best EVOO are not only tasty, they can help you prevent certain ailments.