Olives Grown at High Altitudes Found to Have More Antioxidants

A study found a positive relationship between altitude and levels of CoQ10, tocopherols and phenolic compounds.

By Daniel Dawson
Nov. 27, 2017 10:37 UTC

A new study links the alti­tude at which olives are grown to key health ben­e­fits.

The study found a pos­i­tive rela­tion­ship between alti­tude and lev­els of CoQ10, toco­pherols and phe­no­lic com­pounds — with olives grown at higher alti­tudes con­tain­ing higher con­cen­tra­tions of the three chem­i­cal com­pounds.

There was a sig­nif­i­cant influ­ence of the cli­matic and geo­graphic para­me­ters of the pro­duc­tion zones in the com­po­si­tion of the oils.- Isabel Seiquer, Researcher

All three are widely rec­og­nized as pow­er­ful antiox­i­dants with proven anti-inflam­ma­tory and anti-can­cer ben­e­fits.

Extra vir­gin olive oil (EVOO) was extracted from Arbequina olives grown in 11 dif­fer­ent regions of Brazil and Spain. Each EVOO was then tested for con­cen­tra­tions of the three chem­i­cals at inde­pen­dent lab­o­ra­to­ries.

Researchers found a strong cor­re­la­tion between alti­tude, tem­per­a­ture and rain­fall and the level of these chem­i­cals in the EVOOs.

When we ana­lyzed the pos­si­ble rea­sons for these cor­re­la­tions, we dis­cov­ered that there was a sig­nif­i­cant influ­ence of the cli­matic and geo­graphic para­me­ters of the pro­duc­tion zones in the com­po­si­tion of the oils,” said Isabel Seiquer, the lead researcher in the study. Positive rela­tion­ships of alti­tude with the level of CoQ10, toco­pherols and phe­no­lics of the oils were observed. Negative cor­re­la­tions with rain­falls were also shown.”

The research team chose to study Spanish and Brazilian olive oil because of their jux­ta­po­si­tion: Spain is a long-estab­lished olive oil pro­ducer and exporter, while Brazil is a fledg­ling pro­ducer and rapidly grow­ing importer.

Both also exten­sively grow and har­vest Arbequina olives, a well-known Spanish vari­ety.

Due to its par­tic­u­lar char­ac­ter­is­tics, Arbequina olives have adapted to the inten­sive and super-inten­sive cul­ti­va­tion in Brazil,” Seiquer said. Different fac­tors, includ­ing cli­matic and geo­graphic aspects, can affect the char­ac­ter­is­tics and prop­er­ties of the result­ing olive oil. However, there are very few data about its qual­i­ties and com­po­si­tion.”

Of the 11 selected regions, Granada, Spain had the sec­ond-high­est alti­tude with low­est lev­els of rain­fall and Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil had the sec­ond low­est alti­tude with the high­est level of rain­fall.

In accor­dance with the research, EVOOs from Granada had the high­est lev­els of CoQ10 with 85.3mg/L. EVOOs from Rio Grande do Sul had the low­est lev­els with 49.5mg/L.

The typ­i­cal daily dose of CoQ10 for adults is in between 100 and 200mg mak­ing almost all EVOO a rich source of the antiox­i­dant.

Seiquer hopes that results of this study will help to influ­ence where new olive groves are grown in order to max­i­mize the nutri­tional value of the EVOO.

These find­ings sup­port that EVOOs are one of the best nat­ural sources of dietary CoQ10,” Seiquer wrote in the report. Since the cur­rent intake of CoQ10 in devel­oped coun­tries is not suf­fi­cient to com­pen­sate the age-related decline (of the nat­ural syn­the­sis of these com­pounds in the human body), pro­mot­ing the intake of EVOO may be a good alter­na­tive to sup­ple­men­ta­tion.”

Seiquer plans to con­tinue her research into the health ben­e­fits of EVOO and said she hopes her team’s research will uncover fur­ther health ben­e­fits from the oil’s com­pounds.

We have also observed that after the diges­tion, an improve­ment in the antiox­i­dant prop­er­ties of oils occurs, which is key to many of its health effects,” she said. We would like to study which com­pounds are respon­si­ble for these mod­i­fi­ca­tions.”


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