Olive Oil Health: Why Polyphenols Can Be Good for You

It’s New Year’s resolution time. As good a time as any to spread the word about polyphenols. They’re found in olive oil. And if you haven’t heard about them, they promote good health and can help prevent disease.

So what exactly are polyphenols – other than a mouthful of a word? They’re chemical substances found in plants that may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Extra virgin olive oil, in particular, is rich in polyphenols.

Unlike other olive oils, EVOO isn’t refined. So it contains more polyphenols than other olive oils – including much of the olive oil imported here from Europe.

That’s important from a health standpoint: Polyphenols are a potent antioxidant – one that can decommission a nasty molecule in your body called a free radical. Free radicals contain at least one unpaired electron. They can ricochet around inside your body and harm good cells.

In her book,The New American Olive Oil (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2009), Fran Gage describes the work of polyphenols this way:

“These antioxidants circulate in the body, hooking up with free radicals, unstable compounds thought to play a role in more than 60 different health conditions including cancer and atherosclerosis, as well as aging.”

Nutritionist  Lisa Sheldon, author of Olive Oil Baking (Turner Publishing, 2007), notes polyphenols “are vital to cellular health because they prevent damage from free radicals.”

Polyphenols, in other words, can nip some pretty serious problems in the bud.

Other foods rich in polyphenols include: onions, apple, tea, red wine, strawberries, blueberries, and cranberries.

Olio Nuovo – pressed right after the olives are picked – also happens to be a good source for polyphenols.

Here’s to a healthy 201o.

Bon appétit,

Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch