UC Davis Olive Oil Research Funded by Gaea Products SA Pays Off
Where better than Greece to announce the latest study on the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil? And in this time of economic crisis, how refreshing to see independent enterprise within Greece acting in support of an initiative with such far reaching benefits in the world of health.
In a recent press conference in Athens Dr. Magiatis and Dr. Melliou from the University of Athens shared the findings of a study initiated last year by Mr. Aris Kefalogiannis, CEO of Gaea Products SA, and conducted at University of California, Davis (UC Davis). The study was co-funded by Captain Vasilis Foundation based in Kalamata, Greece, represented at the conference by Mr. Xenophon Kappas, General Director. This first human clinical trial studied the effect of EVOO rich in the phenolic compounds oleocanthal and oleacein when added to the diet of healthy human subjects.
Gaea is known for its progressive global marketing initiatives, care for the environment and concern for the Greek olive farmers. “Featuring traditional Greek products, Gaea has been helping to introduce the traditional diet of Greece to the world, both as part of Mediterranean cuisine and in terms of its unique healthy features.”
Dr. Magiatis and Dr. Melliou from the University of Athens chose the specific Greek EVOOs from among hundreds using the NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) method, which accurately measures each phenolic compound in EVOO. In addition they are the inventors of the handheld Aristoleo Test Kit, which can measure the amount of combined oleocanthal and oleacein using a colorimetric index. Aristoleo is used at the mill during production to sort and classify EVOO.
Selected EVOOs can be further verified by NMR and certified. This information can then be displayed on the product label as allowed by European health claim regulation EU 432/2012.
The findings of this progressive study for High Phenolic Greek EVOO (HPOO) was initially presented at the recent OIS Conference (Oleocanthal International Society) held in Ubeda Spain on 29-30 Oct. 2015. Researcher Roberta Holt from UC Davis was present and outlined the latest research conducted on human volunteers given 40ml of high phenolic Greek EVOO rich in oleocanthal and oleacein. Oleocanthal is known to have anti-inflammatory qualities similar to ibuprofen. Dr. Gary Beauchamp, also a founding member of OIS, made this discovery in 2005 at Monell Chemical Senses Center.
These two compounds found in significant amounts predominantly in early harvest EVOO are the two main antioxidant compounds with already recognized activity for protection against LDL oxidation. The results of this recent study are stunning; Greek EVOO (Koroneiki variety Kalamata PDO) with elevated amounts of oleocanthal (300mg per kg) and oleacein (175mg per kg) had a similar effect on the reactivity of blood platelets as a 400mg dose of ibuprofen in 4 out of the 9 subjects. This indicates that naturally occurring oleocanthal in olive oil may as affective as ibuprofen.
The OIS established in May 2015 is the inspiration of Dr. Amerigo who is keen to support research on the prevention of disease through nutrition, based on consuming oleocanthal rich EVOO. OIS members are at the top of their respective fields from the scientific and research and academic community, gastronomy, media and marketing. Mssrs Kefalogiannis and Kappas were guests of the OIS conference in Ubeda for this special presentation.
The findings of this study pave the way for additional research and a larger human trial study that would analyze, in more depth, the specific results in order to better understand the affects of oleocanthal on human health to not only prevent disease but also to treat and cure it. Not all phenolic compounds are equal in efficacy and their specific health benefits continue to be discovered, researched and confirmed.
While this study focussed on Greek EVOO high in oleocanthal, extra virgin olive oils from other olive producing countries continue to be studied and verified in ongoing research under the auspices of Dr. Magiatis and his team at the University of Athens. The extent of the preventive and healing benefits of all the phenolic compounds in EVOO will eventually be discovered as more research is financed in order to unlock the secrets of the revered olive tree.
Dr. Paul Breslin, a founding member of OIS, also studied the effects of oleocanthal on cancerous cells in a petri dish. He placed pure oleocanthal on cancerous tumor cells and within 30 minutes all cancerous cells died while the healthy cells were not adversely affected. Funding and additional research is required before oleocanthal can be used to treat this disease, but the initial results are startling.
At the press conference in Athens on November 3, 2015, Mr. Kefalogiannis announced that Gaea would be the first large Greek olive oil company to place the health claim on their label as allowed by EU reg. 432/2012. The debate raging in Greece over the last 3 years on how to implement this regulation is over. High Phenolic Greek EVOO (HPOO) is gaining the world stature it so richly deserves.
“This news comes at a good time for Greece and Greek olive producers deep in the midst of the direst economic crisis in the last 60 years. The real winner though is the discerning consumer throughout the world who can now buy with confidence and assurance,” says Athan Gadanidis, founding member of OIS.
OIS proposes to hold its next international conference in Greece and introduce a new EVOO competition, which will not only assess organoleptic (taste) attributes but also the health benefits of phenolic concentration in EVOO. Health combined with gastronomy promises the health conscious and discerning public a new category of superior EVOO with proven health benefits that also satisfies the palate. The food as medicine idea is finally making a comeback — just as the father of modern medicine Hippocrates prescribed 2,500 years ago, right here in Greece. “Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food.”
Photo Credit: Athan Gadanidis
Disclosure: Marilyn Harding is the owner of Artemis Alliance Inc. which funded research by Dr. Magiatis and Dr. Melliou at the University of Athens. The result is the patented Aristoleo™ Test Kit (for professional use) and Aristoleo™ Ltd.
Aris Kefalogiannis: Olive Oil Times
Gaea Products SA
Captain Vassilis Foundation
Dr. Gary Beachamp
Measure the amount of combined oleocanthal and oleacein
UC Davis protection against LDL oxidation
Dr. Paul Breslin research effects of oleocanthal on cancerous cells
EU Labelling Regulation 432/2012
Debate raging in Greece re EU Labelling
Greek Crisis on Olive Oil Industry