The Health Benefiting Mechanisms of Virgin Olive Oil Phenolic Compounds
Virgin olive oil (VOO) is credited as being one of the many healthful components associated with the Mediterranean diet. Mediterranean populations experience reduced incidence of chronic inflammatory disease states and VOO is readily consumed as part of an everyday Mediterranean dietary pattern. VOO is rich in phenolic compounds and the health promoting benefits of these phenolics are now established. Recent studies have highlighted the biological properties of VOO phenolic compounds
... ompounds elucidating their anti-inflammatory activities. This paper will review current knowledge on the anti-inflammatory and nutrigenomic, chemoprotective and anti-atherosclerotic activities of VOO phenolics. In addition the concentration, metabolism and bioavailability of specific phenolic compounds will be discussed. The evidence presented in the review concludes that oleurepein, hydroxytyrosol and oleocanthal have potent pharmacological activities in vitro and in vivo; however, intervention studies with biologically relevant concentrations of these phenolic compounds are required. The principle source of dietary fat in the Mediterranean diet is VOO [18, 19] and VOO contributes significantly to the superior health profile observed in Mediterranean populations [20, 21] . In fact, throughout history, VOO has been recognized as being a potent pharmacological agent by ancient Greek doctors, and Hippocrates mentions approximately 60 health conditions where VOO use can be beneficial  . A large body of evidence has highlighted the benefits of VOO intake on primary end points for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and total mortality as well as secondary risk factors for chronic inflammatory diseases such as cancer, endothelial function and hypertension  . Phenolic Fraction It is now known that VOO contains approximately 36 phenolic compounds and these compounds play a key role in the health promoting qualities of the oil [7,     . Research investigating VOO phenolics and benefits to human health has focused on inflammation, antioxidant status, antimicrobial activity, as well as other biological markers of non-communicable disease (for an earlier review see  ). The principle phenolics of interest in this review are secoiridoid oleuropein, and its derivative hydroxytyrosol, and the minor phenolic compound oleocanthal.