A review of the evolution in the research of antioxidants in olives and olive oil during the last four decades
Olives and olive oil have established, through centuries, strong bonds with the prosperity and well being of the Mediterranean people. Numerous studies have featured them as main antioxidant sources, based on their phenolic profile, which includes phenolic acids and alcohols, polyphenols, lignans, secoiridoids, oleacein and oleocanthal. Several factors, such as cultivar, fruit maturation, processing methods, storage conditions etc. affect the presence of these significant constituents in the products. Re-use of olive mill waste water has been studied to enrich the phenolic profile of the final product. Olive oil is considered a functional food with extensive use in the food industry. The biological effects of olives and virgin olive oil components include protection against cardiovascular diseases, anti-inflammation action, neuro and endothelial protection etc. Research studies, in vitro and in vivo, in humans and in animals have been performed to better understand the metabolism and bioactivity of olives and olive oil phenolics. Olives and olive oil antioxidants are not only absorbed by the body, but can also attach to the lining of the digestive tract, contributing to the health impact afforded by these products. Laboratory methods and techniques used so far for the qualitative and quantitative identification of these compounds are cited.