`New Phenolic Compounds Unveiled at Harvard Conference - Olive Oil Times

New Phenolic Compounds Unveiled at Harvard Conference

Sep. 29, 2014
Athan Gadanidis

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The Mediterranean Diet and Workplace Health” con­fer­ence was held at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, September 27 and 28 with par­tic­i­pants from sev­eral coun­tries and numer­ous lec­tures high­light­ing the key role of olive oil for health pro­tec­tion within the frame­work of the Mediterranean diet.

In con­trast to ear­lier and out­dated rec­om­men­da­tions for low-fat diets, the new mes­sages are strongly in favor of mod­er­ate con­sump­tion of healthy fats of mainly olive oil and nuts, which are seen as inte­gral to a healthy and com­plete diet.

Two sci­en­tists attend­ing the con­fer­ence from Greece, Dr. Prokopios Magiatis and Dr. Eleni Melliou, made three announce­ments con­cern­ing the work on olive oil polyphe­nols:

  • Two new com­pounds found in olive oil, oleomiss­sional and oleoko­ronal, have been iden­ti­fied and so named
  • A new test, called the Melliou-Magiatis method, can mea­sure the amount of oleo­can­thal and olea­cein in olive oil using a col­ori­met­ric app with a kit in the field
  • Tests on mice indi­cate oleo­can­thal in com­bi­na­tion with olea­cein showed a bet­ter result in low­er­ing LDL oxi­da­tion than olea­cein on its own.

Discussing the dis­cov­ery of the two com­pounds never before iden­ti­fied in olive oil, Magiatis explained Since we dis­cov­ered the NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) method for mea­sur­ing spe­cific phe­nols in olive oil, we often saw some peaks in the spec­trum for com­pounds we could not iden­tify. It took us 2 years to iden­tify these two com­pounds, which we named: oleomiss­sional and oleoko­ronal.”

Magiatis and Melliou first encoun­tered these peaks in olive oils from Berkeley Olive Grove 1913 and Apollo Olive Oil from California dur­ing research stud­ies at UC Davis Olive Center, from Koroneiki olive oil from Messinia and from Paleopanagia in Lakonia, Greece dur­ing their work at the University of Athens.

It will take more research to deter­mine the exact role or spe­cific health ben­e­fits of these two newly dis­cov­ered com­pounds,” Magiatis explained. This is the first time new phe­no­lic com­pounds have been iden­ti­fied in olive oil since oleo­can­thal was iden­ti­fied in 1993. The two com­pounds are related to oleu­ropein and ligstro­side agly­cons and most prob­a­bly should have sim­i­lar bit­ter or pun­gent sen­sory prop­er­ties. The two com­pounds are most com­monly found in olive oils pro­duced with short malax­a­tion time.”

Dr. Melliou described the inven­tion of a new sim­ple and fast col­ori­met­ric assay method to mea­sure oleo­can­thal and olea­cein found in olive oil called the Melliou-Magiatis method. It takes as lit­tle as 20 min­utes to get a read­ing. A sim­ple kit com­prised of a vial, two reagents and olive oil are com­bined. This results in a color change from yel­low to dark green in the sep­a­rated liq­uid. The greener the liq­uid the higher the amount of com­bined oleo­can­thal and olea­cein. The total amount of these two com­pounds can be cal­cu­lated by a col­ori­met­ric app using an iPhone or an android phone. The amount can also be esti­mated with a good rate of accu­racy of about 80 – 90 per­cent, depend­ing on the expe­ri­ence of the user, by a visual com­par­i­son of the liq­uid with a color chart.”

Finally, Dr. Magiatis pre­sented test results con­ducted with mice fed with olive oils con­tain­ing dif­fer­ent amounts of oleo­can­thal and olea­cein to deter­mine if oleo­can­thal played a role in reduc­ing LDL oxi­da­tion.

Magiatis explained what moti­vated them to con­duct this exper­i­ment: Some doubt was cre­ated ear­lier this year by some EU reg­u­la­tors and local Greek author­i­ties on whether oleo­can­thal should be included in the mea­sure­ment of polyphe­nols in order to com­ply with the EU label­ing reg­u­la­tion 432/2012. So we decided to con­duct our own research in order to deter­mine the role oleo­can­thal plays in reduc­ing LDL oxi­da­tion.”

So the Magiatis-Melliou team con­ducted tests on mice who were fed for 50 days a high fat diet aug­mented by an EVOO con­tain­ing vary­ing amounts of oleo­can­thal and hydrox­y­ty­rosol deriv­a­tives such as olea­cein. More
pre­cisely the olive oils we used were the fol­low­ing: one with zero phe­no­lics, one with only oleo­can­thal, and two more with the same amounts of hydrox­y­ty­rosol deriv­a­tives but with dif­fer­ent lev­els of oleo­can­thal (one low and one high).

Despite the last two oils hav­ing exactly the same amounts of hydrox­y­ty­rosol deriv­a­tives, the oil with high oleo­can­thal was much more effec­tive in reduc­ing LDL oxi­da­tion.

The sci­en­tists sug­gested the find­ing could help set­tle the debate on whether the mea­sure­ment of oleo­can­thal should be included in the EU label­ing reg­u­la­tion; an impor­tant issue for Greek olive oil pro­duc­ers whose oils tend to have higher amounts of oleo­can­thal than olea­cein.

Magiatis went on to say: This test is not con­clu­sive sci­en­tific proof but it does indi­cate a syn­er­gis­tic rela­tion­ship between oleo­can­thal and olea­cein in reduc­ing LDL oxi­da­tion” The next step would be to con­duct human tri­als.

Dr. Melliou added: The sci­en­tific evi­dence is grow­ing about the impor­tance of the olive tree, its fruit and its oil. The rea­son it was a cen­tral theme of the Ancient Hellenic cul­ture for ath­letic vic­tory, peace, nutri­tion, and med­i­cine is becom­ing more obvi­ous.”

Panagiotis Diamantakos, Nikolaos Demertzis, Michail Rallis, Angeliki Kourounakis, Eleni Melliou and Prokopios Magiatis — all from the University of Athens, Faculty of Pharmacy — con­tributed to this arti­cle.

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