The power of olives

Research has strongly suggested that the Mediterranean-style diet can lower the risk of heart disease and decrease cancer mortality rates.

With a focus on unrefined cereals and grains, vegetables and fruits, and a moderate emphasis on fish and wine consumption, this blend of traditional cuisines from Greece, Spain, Italy, Crete, Southern France and parts of the Middle East also places great importance on olives. And researchers are beginning to take notice.


Olives contain three types of polyphenols or plant compounds, including the potent hydroxytyrosol, which has great potential for human health.

It may protect against oxidative damage, prevent the oxidation of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, enhance immunity and promote an anti-inflammatory response.

Among the polyphenols studied so far, this olive compound outperforms all other antioxidants, including those found in red wine, as measured by the USDA’s Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity scale ranking system.

Low levels

Despite its benefits, bioavailability of hydroxytyrosol in foods remains low.

Fresh olives contain about 0.1% to 1% polyphenol, of which only about 0.02% to 0.2% is hydroxytyrosol.

Virgin olive oils are not much better, with 0.05% phenolic compounds and 0.02% hydroxytyrosol.

While hydroxytyrosol increases with olive maturation, its hydrophilic nature often results in it being discarded during the olive oil production process.


Nevertheless, hydroxytyrosol levels can be enhanced in the olive fruit with maturation, and during storage and processing.

DSM Nutritional Products’ hydroxytyrosol ingredient Hidrox is isolated from organically grown olives, using a patented process (Integrale).

According to in-house tests, the average hydroxytyrosol content of commercially available olives is 251mg/kg, or 0.025%.

To consume the recommended daily dose of Hidrox, one would reportedly have to consume about 50g (50ml) of olive oil per day — the equivalent of up to fifty-two medium-sized olives per day.

Hidrox 6% olive polyphenol is stable and dissolves in water, which makes it suitable for fortification in citrus-type fruit juices, vegetable juices, yoghurt drinks and food products such as instant noodles, soups, sauces, cheese, baked goods and most other savoury products.

“The olive fruit has a strong astringent flavour,” DSM Nutritional Products innovation manager, Magdalene Wong said.

“Hidrox, on the other hand, has only a mild, almost undetectable flavour and can provide the health benefits of olives without needing to consume large amounts of olive oil or olives.”

This article appears courtesy of Asia Food Journal.

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