Polyphenols are natural compounds found in plants. They have gained worldwide interest and the knowledge about the relationship between their consumption and health improvement is constantly growing. They present antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

The composition of polyphenols in olive fruit varies depending on the variety, moment of harvest, weather conditions, collection and production processes, etc.

Mediterranean countries have lower rates of mortality from cardiovascular disease and cancer than Northern European or other Western countries. This has been attributed, at least in part, to the so-called Mediterranean diet, which is composed of specific local foods, including olive oil.

Traditionally, many beneficial properties associated with this oil have been ascribed to its high oleic acid content. Today, it is clear that many of the beneficial effects of ingesting virgin olive oil are due to its minor compounds.

Virgin olive oil is produced by direct pressing or centrifugation of the olives. The minor components of virgin olive oil are classified into different types, including phenolic alcohols: this group includes hydroxytyrosol ((3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)ethanol), tyrosol (phydroxyphenyl ethanol) and hydroxytyrosol glucoside, secoiridoids (elenolic acid or elenolic acid derivates), lignans and flavonoids (apigenin and luteolin).

The concentrations in virgin olive oils differ due to factors, such as the origin of the olive, degree of ripeness, milling process, etc. The most important secoiridoids present in virgin olive oil are the dialdehydic form of decarboxymethyl elenolic acid.

Spain, together with other Mediterranean countries such as Italy and Greece, has a long tradition of olive cultivation and olive oil production, with both the fruit and the oil being habitual components of the Spanish diet. Dietary intake of olive oil polyphenols in these countries has been estimated to be around 9 mg per day with a daily intake of 25–50 ml. of olive oil.

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    Since 2004, olive oil has been recognized as beneficial for health .


    Polyphenols are natural compounds found in plants.


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