What is The World’s Healthiest Olive Oil?

Recently, the Australian Olive Oil producer Boundary Bend, published and distributed a press release which stated that it’s Cobram Estate California Select blend was named the “healthiest Olive Oil in the world” at a competition in Spain that measured the total polyphenol and oleocanthal levels in submitted entries of olive oils.

It is safe to come to conclusion that Extra Virgin Olive Oils containing phenolics are a bit more healthy than those without them.

In today’s market, high phenolic content is being marketed by some Olive Oil companies to gain a competitive advantage in a crowded Olive Oil marketplace.

Forbes Magazine recently wrote:

“Olive Oil can be sold as much as much as $150, packaged in a nice liter in popular sites, provided that it is certified to contain the right phenols — chemical compounds, which according to EU research contain health-protecting properties.”

“This is exciting news as we competed against the world’s greatest oils from Spain, Italy and Greece,” Cobram Estate’s technical director, Leandro Ravetti, said in the statement.

“We are proud that our simple commitment to quality and freshness has gained California oil the recognition it deserves.”

While only a handful would argue that Cobram Estate has developed itself among the most awarded Olive Oil companies in the world, the “healthiest olive oil” unique distinction raises a crucial question: How can we know if one Olive Oil is actually healthier than another Olive Oil?

World's Best Healthy Extra Virgin Olive Oil Contest

The competition, called the World's Best Healthy EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) Contest, in Málaga was held in May and unfortunately, didn’t release the number of contestants in its brief presentation of the results. What it did say however is that entries were rated by their total polyphenols, oleocanthal levels and “most balanced fatty acid profile.”

Phenolic compounds, which includes oleocanthal, are antioxidants in Extra Virgin Olive Oilthat have shown in recent years to prevent degenerative ailments such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

But is an olive oil that has more polyphenols necessarily healthier than one with modest amounts? Aspirin, as an example, has been shown to prevent heart attacks when taken routinely.

After years of research and million-dollar studies, 81 milligrams is prescribed as the right amount in a daily routine. You might ask, what is the correct number for phenols?

Gary Beauchamp, the president emeritus of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia who discovered oleocanthal, said that we just do not know the answer quite yet.

“It is safe to conclude that EVOOs (Extra Virgin Olive Oils) containing phenolics, and specifically containing oleocanthal (amounts of which can roughly be identified by the pungency or throat irritation of an oil), are more healthy than those without them, and it is probably the case which usually those with more are likely to be better than those with much less. But it is unlikely that more is always better.”

Antioxidants in pill form, for example, have been criticized by some medical professionals who say they could be too much of a great thing. “You get to a point, and sometimes early, that the high doses become hazardous,” Jim Kehrer of the pharmacy department at the University of Alberta in Edmonton said in an interview with CBC News.

“Advertisers have put forth the idea that a little is good, more is better and a lot is great but that isn’t really correct,” said Kehrer, who has been researching the effects of free radicals since the 1970s, according to CBC.

After all, Beauchamp reasoned, too much water can be toxic, “so it is reasonable to assume that there is a level of phenolics that would not be healthy to consume. We do not know what these optimal levels are because there are almost no human experiments directed at investigating this crucial question.”

And it could be that the picture is much more complex than that.

Nonetheless, experts agree it may be a long time before we know for sure that higher levels of phenols and other components in Olive Oil are better for us.

Frequency — or how many times we consume these nutrients — could even turn out to be more essential than potency. In that case, the best tasting olive oil would seem to be the better choice.