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What is Polyphenol-Rich Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

March 03, 2023 Mediterra Team

Olive oil has earned its status over the centuries as one of the most healthful and versatile ingredients in the culinary arts. Not only does it provide a unique flavor that seems to complement nearly all foods, but it serves also as an excellent carrier oil for nutrients and essential oils. 


Not all olive oils are created equal, however, and the quality of the source of the olives themselves plays a huge part in the overall quality of the oil produced. This is especially true when it comes to the polyphenols that olives are known to possess and how much of those compounds make their way into the oils. 


Unlike many brands that makes claims on their olive oil being rich in polyphenols with nothing to back it up, BYRSA olive oil comes complete with a highly detailed and authenticated lab analysist for each and every harvest. By understanding the full profile of polyphenols in our olive oil, you can be more in tune with the myriad health benefits that you can reap with our products.


What are Polyphenols?

Polyphenols are a kind of bioactive compound that is rich in antioxidant properties among others. This compound is a hydroxyl group (-OH) that bonds to a group of aromatic hydrocarbons. Once this compound creates a larger chain, it becomes a polyphenol. 


This compound is among the most intensely studied groups of bioactive molecules found in olive oil, though it can be found in smaller amounts in other foods. Extensive research shows that it is incredibly capable of reducing cell oxidative stress, especially when compared to other antioxidants. Oxidative stress is known to exacerbate or even cause DNA mutations responsible for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and even neurodegenerative disorders.


There are a few factors that contribute to the density of polyphenol levels in olive oil. These include:


- Altitude. Olive orchards that sit at a higher altitude tend to create olives with higher polyphenol levels. 


- Water intake. Olive trees that are watered less produce olives with higher polyphenol compounds. 


- Olive pressing. The process by which the oils are extracted is also a crucial element that is partially responsible for the polyphenol count in the end result.


BYRSA pays special mind to each of these factors when creating each batch of olive oil to ensure that only the highest quality product makes the cut and that each drop is packed with healthy polyphenols.


What Polyphenols Are Found in Olive Oil?


Though there are many different polyphenol compounds, there are some that are unique to only olive oil. These include: 



Present in olive oil and royal jasmine, Oleacein is among the most abundantly present phenol compounds in olive oil. 



Tyrosol is a naturally occurring antioxidant that is found in olive oil as well as EVOO. 



This compound is found in olives, their pulp and their leaves. 



This polyphenol is a compound you're more likely to find in green olive and olive leaves. More specifically still, you'll find it in high concentrations in the skin of the olive and is responsible for a bitter flavor note in olive oil. 



Last but not least is Ligstroside. This compound belongs to a group called phenolic glycosides. It is commonly found in olive fruit but can be present in smaller amounts in other fruits.


What are the Health Benefits of Polyphenols?

BYRSA olive oil puts primary focus on making polyphenol-dense olive oil to bring consumers all of its many benefits. By choosing Chetoui and Chemlali olives for their oils, each drop is packed with the nutrient-rich and healthy compounds the body craves. Due to their antioxidant-rich compounds, polyphenols have been, in a general sense, shown to: 


Boost cognitive function and brain health

Ease pain and inflammation in joints and muscles

Help fight cancerous cells

Improve the health of the gut microbe biome

Lower cholesterol and blood pressure

Reduce the risk of developing diabetes

Support mental health and mood


Let's take a closer look at what the prominent polyphenols can do for your health. 



Oleocanthal serves as a natural anti-inflammatory that is also bursting with anti-oxidants. Olive oil with high Oleocanthal levels has been shown to rupture cancerous cells with enzymes capable of causing cell death, all without hurting healthy cells. Oleocanthal is also thought to provide neuroprotection against Alzheimer's Disease. 


In 2020, a study was conducted that showed olive oil rich with Oleocanthal may help achieve healthy weight loss. During this study, patients struggling with metabolic syndrome were given olive oil with high levels of Oleocanthal for two months. Results showed that this had a beneficial effect on a variety of metabolic issues, abdominal fat distribution and inflammation.



Oleuropein is a powerful antioxidant first and foremost while also bringing natural anti-inflammatory benefits. While fighting free radicals from the environment that might otherwise age the cells, it also boasts neuroprotective and cardioprotective abilities. This may help protect the heart against disease. Finally, Oleuropein has low glucose values, making it ideal for those on a glucose-sensitive diet.



Oleacein is among the most abundant of the polyphenols in olive oil. It features anti-microbial, anti-proliferative, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties for a full, healthful profile. 


Oleacein is thought to be able to decrease atherosclerosis progression in patients. A clinical study regarding chromic lymphatic leukemia helped to support this claim. It showed that Oleacein- and Oleocanthal-rich olive oil was able to decrease cancerous white blood cells. These compounds also helped to kill cancer cells without harming the healthy ones around it.


Other Health Benefits: 


- A study published as recently as January 2022 indicated that polyphenol rich olive oil, especially those rich with hydroxytyrosol, were able to preserve brain health. This compound was also shown to provide anti-aging benefits while offering stronger protection against cognitive decline.


- In November 2020, a clinical trial published in the Journal of Alzheimer's disease showed that polyphenol rich olive oil helped improve various forms of mild cognitive impairment. Patients who consumed such olive oil seemed to fair better than those simply on a Mediterranean Diet, which usually just includes simple olive oils. 


- A recent study conducted on how natural foods can help treat COVID-19 showed that hydroxytyrosol may play a big role in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation caused by the virus. While this is not a treatment alone, it is believed that consuming olive oils rich with this polyphenol may make a great addition to a COVID-19 treatment plan.


- In February 2021, a study showed that olive oil with high polyphenol content may be able to lower the risk of heart disease, especially in relation to type 2 diabetes. While similar results have been seen in other studies, this trial showed that the kind of olive oil used is the crucial variable. 


For example, just 50 milliliters of olive oil rich in polyphenols made it easier for blood vessels to expand as blood move through them. 


How Do Polyphenols Relate to "Extra Virgin," "Organic" and "Cold Pressed" Olive Oils? 


- Cold pressed. The method that BYRSA uses to extract olive oil is the cold pressed method. This method has been shown to be the most efficient and effective way to pack as many polyphenols into the oil as possible. When olive oil gets cold pressed, this means that it has been extracted at a temperature below 27 degrees Celsius. This method yields a higher chance of it having higher polyphenol compounds, as more of them are able to be preserved. Even so, this is not always a definite.


- Extra Virgin. Extra virgin olive oil alone may not indicate the presence of a large amount of polyphenols. That said, it is possible to have the flavor notes that polyphenols bring while only having around 150 mg per kilogram. It is also possible for olive oil to contain a high level of phenolic content while lacking that sensory profile due to poor growth conditions, harvesting methods or extraction types. 


- Organic. Polyphenol rich olive oil can be found both in organic and in non-organic olive oils. 


Since there are various elements to olive oil in terms of its polyphenol components, it's impossible to know for sure that your olive oil is full of them without a full lab analysis. BYRSA ensures that you know exactly what is in your olive oil down to the percentage with full and transparent disclosure for each batch produced.


Can Phenolic Content Affect the Taste of Olive Oil?

Polyphenols in olive oil are not only responsible for healthy benefits--they are also responsible for the taste in olive oil. The greater the concentration of polyphenols in olive oil, the more intense its flavor and general sensory profile is as a whole. Some polyphenols are shown to be linked directly to certain sensory features. For instance, oleocanthal and oleacein are responsible for the pungent and peppery sensation olive oil can make your mouth feel, while oleuropein brings about the bitter sensation often felt at the back of the tongue. 


BYRSA extracts olive oil using a sustainable, cold pressed organic process that is employed to remove the oil in a pure and unadulterated way. Not only does this leave the olive oil compound profile free of impurities, the specially chosen olives also impart a one of a kind taste. Chetoui olives are known for their lightly peppery taste with hints of artichoke, whereas Chemlali olives build upon that flavor profile with notes of green olives. 


BYRSA olive oil can be used not only as an ingredient in your cooking. You can also make it into a carrier oil for essential oils and other topical compounds. Due to its nutrient- and polyphenol-rich nature, this oil may also pose benefits for the hair, skin and nails when applied as a part of your skincare and haircare routines. The sheer versatility of polyphenol-rich olive oil alone earns it a permanent place in your home's pantry.


The power of polyphenols speaks for itself in each drop of the olive oil produced by BYRSA. You don't have to take that claim at face value, however; BYRSA freely gives lab analyses on the olive oil produced batch by batch, so you can see for yourself the many polyphenols naturally available in each bottle.