`Soil May Have Most Impact on Certain Olive Oil Phytosterol Levels - Olive Oil Times

Soil May Have Most Impact on Certain Olive Oil Phytosterol Levels

Jun. 9, 2014
Louise Taylor

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Phytosterols are plant com­pounds that resem­ble cho­les­terol. The high­est con­cen­tra­tions are found in veg­etable oils, beans and nuts. There are over 200 dif­fer­ent phy­tos­terols, includ­ing steryl glu­co­side and other sterol deriv­a­tives. Phytosterol deriv­a­tives have been sci­en­tif­i­cally proven to lower plasma and LDL cho­les­terols by com­pet­ing with cho­les­terol for absorp­tion in the diges­tive tract.

The authors of a study recently pub­lished in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry com­pared dif­fer­ent olive cul­ti­vars, orchard loca­tions, farm­ing meth­ods and sam­pling times in a bid to deter­mine which ele­ments influ­ence steryl glu­co­side lev­els in olive oils. Initial find­ings sug­gest that pedo­cli­mate – mean­ing soil water, nutri­ents, and aer­a­tion – could have the most sig­nif­i­cant impact on steryl glu­co­side con­cen­tra­tions.

Researchers at the Instituto de la Grasa, CSIC (Institute of Fats and Fat Derivatives of the Spanish National Research Council) ana­lyzed vir­gin oils obtained from the Cornicabra, Manzanilla Cacereña, Manzanilla Castellana, and Picual olive vari­eties grown in eight dif­fer­ent orchards sit­u­ated around the out­skirts of Madrid near the Manzanares River. The orchards were typ­i­cally planted with 300 trees per hectare and both tra­di­tional and organic farm­ing meth­ods were included in the study. Fruit was hand­picked and oil was extracted within 24 hours of har­vest­ing to ensure high qual­ity. An Abencor® ham­mer mill was used to crush the olives, with 700 g of oil paste processed per hour. Forty-four oil sam­ples were ana­lyzed.

Fruit vari­ety and farm­ing method proved less sig­nif­i­cant than char­ac­ter­is­tics of the soil – the pedo­cli­mate – on lev­els of steryl glu­co­sides. Another inter­est­ing find­ing was the pres­ence of a wider vari­ety of steryl glu­co­side deriv­a­tives in the olive oils than has pre­vi­ously been observed. The method­ol­ogy used in the study was effi­cient and cost-effec­tive, and thus could eas­ily be applied to the rou­tine test­ing of steryl glu­co­side lev­els in olive oils.

Because they pre­vent the absorp­tion of reg­u­lar dietary cho­les­terol while remain­ing not eas­ily absorbed them­selves, steryl glu­co­sides together with other phy­tos­terols induce lower total cho­les­terol lev­els, which in turn can reduce risk for heart dis­ease, stroke and heart attack. This study con­tributes to the moun­tain of evi­dence demon­strat­ing that olive oil, with its con­cen­tra­tions of essen­tial fatty acids and minor com­pounds includ­ing phy­tos­terols and antiox­i­dants, is a strate­gic food ele­ment for man­ag­ing and reduc­ing cho­les­terol lev­els and asso­ci­ated health risks, as well as many other ail­ments. /end/


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