The health beneficial properties that the Mediterranean Diet has are well known, being one of the oldest and most ancient diets worldwide. The olive oil is, no doubt, the base of this diet; therefore the Mediterranean population has a certainly high consumption of olive oil.

The studies regarding the health beneficial and preventive properties of the olive oil are increasingly being published, mostly because of the natural antioxidants that we can find in it.

In this post we will talk about the oleocanthal.

The oleocanthal is a natural organic component that belongs to the polyphenols family, bioactive components with antioxidant characteristics. It is the molecule causing the throat-itching feeling when consuming oils that have it. It is exclusively found in some extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) of the highest quality and obtained after a careful and detailed elaboration, thus not every olive oil have it neither in the same amounts. The extra virgin olive oils that contain this molecule in a higher quantity are usually obtained from Arbequina and Picual olives. It is important to have into account that the oleocanthal is especially vulnerable to decomposition by exposure to oxygen and light.

The health beneficial effects on quality of the oleocanthal molecule are the following:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties: The oleocanthal acts as a natural anti-inflammatory component with a strength and acting profile surprisingly similar to the ibuprofen,
  • Anti-carcinogenic effect: It has been found that the mere enzymes of the oleocanthal cause carcinogenic cellules death through the breaking of the blisters that store the cellule’s wastes, preventing the disturbance of the healthy cellules.
  • Mitigates the pain associated to arthritis: The oleocanthal acts as a strong inhibitor of the inflammatory response in the articular cartilage cellules.
  • Alzheimer control and neurodegenerative effects: It has been proved that the oleocanthal is capable of disabling the formation of hyperphosphorylated tau protein deposits, an injury characteristic from the neurodegenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer. Perhaps the oleocanthal, along with other phenolic compounds present in the unsaponifiable fraction of the extra virgin olive oil, exercise a neuro-therapeutic potential to be reflected in the low incidence of neurodegenerative illnesses and the minor cognitive decline in those populations that consume this healthy fat regularly.

Consuming extra virgin olive oil is consuming health!