What to Know about High Polyphenol Olive Oils
What Are Polyphenols?Olive oil is known for being one of the healthiest oils you can use - and it's not just the healthy monounsaturated fats. Extra virgin olive oils are rich in polyphenols, organic antioxidant compounds that are found in plants. EVOO contains over 20 different polyphenols, including hydroxytyrosol, oleocanthal and oleuropein. Diets rich in antioxidants such as polyphenols have been well studied and shown to have many health benefits, including:
- Lower cholesterol levels (and oxidation of cholesterol)
- Reduced heart disease risk
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved brain health & cognitive function
- Reduced inflammation
- Reduced diabetes risk
- Supportive in fighting free radicals & cancer in the body
How do you know if an olive oil is high in polyphenols?
The type of olives, when they are harvested, and how an oil is stored all have a big impact on the polyphenol content of an olive oil. Lab testing is available, though expensive and only a snapshot of the moment the oil is tested.
However, there are a couple taste signifiers to look for that indicate high polyphenol content: Pungency, the peppery kick in the back of your throat, is associated with high levels of the phenol oleocanthal (which acts in a similar way to Ibuprofen, as well as being a known cancer-fighting agent). Bitterness is associated with the phenol oleuropein. In general, the more robust and the fresher the olive oil, the higher the polyphenol content, so you can look for harvest dates and taste descriptors to get an idea.
If you’re used to mild extra virgin olive oil, it might be time to incorporate some of the bitterness and pungency of a more robust EVOO to your diet – it’s super healthy! These are best used for finishing, dipping and cold applications. Use them as a finishing touch after plating, and bring a bottle out to the table so everyone can drizzle EVOO over their dishes to their personal liking.
Note: you may not like bitterness and pungency when tasting oil by itself, but incorporated into foods those qualities can add to the overall flavor of a dish.
Which of Stonehouse's EVOO's are highest in polyphenols?
Our Reserve EVOO is our most robust olive oil, with a luscious texture, a perfect extra-kicky burn in the throat, a tinge of good bitterness, and fantastic grassy/sweet butter balance - a superior oil! Made from bold Tuscan varietals, stored in a temperature-controlled stainless steel tank until ready to be bottled.
Our Organic Estate EVOO is, as one of our customers recently reviewed it, "the best EVOO I've tried"! The Milner's hand-harvest their olives, which minimizes bruising of the fruit while preserving the high polyphenol content and exquisite flavors of the Maurino, Leccino and Coratina olives. These trees and olives are pampered through and through - and you can taste it. Our OE is a luscious, medium-bold olive oil, balanced with both prominent grassy and creamy notes, with a tingly peppery finish. Still amazingly fresh even though it's from the 2019 harvest, which speaks to the quality with which it was made and stored. A staff favorite, though sadly, we will no longer be carrying this oil once this harvest is gone, due to fire damage last year.
While this year's Olio Nuovo Coratina EVOO turned out more light and tropical fruity with a slightly bitter finish (vs strong and peppery as the varietal is often known to be), it is, by nature, a well-known high-polyphenol olive. This was our first harvest from these young trees, so they're still ramping up.
Last but certainly not least, our certified Organic Arbequina EVOO from Colusa county is bursting with a fresh, grassy aroma, rich, creamy, green tea-like notes, and a peppery finish with just a hint of bitterness. It's everything you want in an Arbequina oil! On average, extra virgin olive oils range between 100-250 mg/kg polyphenols, but ours clocks in at 276 mg/kg polyphenols!
Here's to your health!