Free delivery in Quebec for orders of $80 and more / in Ontario 90$ and more

Image d'une salade de betteraves

Olive oil and its antioxidant power

July 20, 2022


Known as one of the pillars of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is very popular as an accompaniment to many meals. It has also been used for thousands of years for its medicinal properties and still attracts the attention of several researchers regarding its health benefits. In addition to monounsaturated fats, olive oil contains other interesting compounds, notably phenolic compounds, whose antioxidant power is considered to have a major contribution to the prevention of chronic diseases¹ .

Oxidative stress, what is it?

Oxidative stress results in an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the availability of antioxidants that can be used by our body² . The phenomenon of oxidation occurs when oxygen comes into contact with chemical substances which will release molecules called free radicals² . A bit like the flesh of an apple or avocado that turns brown when left out in the open for a while. In too large quantities, free radicals are potentially harmful to our body since they damage our healthy cells, thus contributing to the development of several diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, etc.²,³ , . Tobacco, an unbalanced diet and stress are some factors that can also increase the production of free radicals².⁶

A natural defense system

Fortunately, antioxidants have the role of preventing or slowing down this oxidation, allowing our body to eliminate these famous free radicals², ⁷,⁸.

Food allows us to seek out sources of micronutrients with antioxidant properties: vitamin C, vitamin E, polyphenols (present in olive oil) and certain trace elements such as selenium .

More concretely, we find antioxidants in several foods such as small fruits (e.g. strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries), vegetables, cocoa, tea, herbs and spices and olive oil to name a few. only a few ⁴,⁵ . We therefore deduce that a balanced diet plays a vital role in countering oxidative stress and thus preventing the development of several diseases.

Focus on olive oil

Olive oil can be classified into three categories, namely extra virgin olive oil, virgin olive oil and olive oil . The chemical composition, and therefore the polyphenol content, can vary in olive oil depending on the extraction technology used, the place of cultivation and the maturity of the fruits . The polyphenol content reaches its maximum in extra virgin olive oils .

The mechanism of action of polyphenols found in extra virgin olive oil is closely linked to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity . Reducing inflammation is one of the most important mechanisms for preventing the development of disease.

In addition, oleic acid, which is the main fatty acid present in olive oil, is much less sensitive to oxidation than the polyunsaturated fatty acids found in large quantities in certain other oils (e.g. sunflower, safflower) .

Oils are both powerful and real shields for our body, but some can also become fragile, especially when it comes time to heat them. Extra virgin olive oil is no exception; it should not be heated to high temperature. Use it mainly in salad dressing and at low temperature for cooking. When pan-frying, it is important that the oil does not reach its smoke point, which is 330°F (191°C) . To avoid reaching the smoking point, you can add your food to cook immediately instead of letting the oil heat up on its own in the pan. This way, the temperature of the oil won't rise as quickly and your food will benefit from the omega-3s in the oil. ⁶,³,²,¹,³,⁷

Other little tips to preserve your oils and slow down the degradation of the quality of your oils:

  • Make sure you choose an opaque bottle
  • Store your oils in a cool, dark place

How to integrate infused olive oils into our dishes daily?

  • Add a drizzle of Tuscan Herbs or Basil olive oil to your eggs in the morning.
  • Add balsamic to your Herbes de Provence olive oil to dip a piece of bread in it.
  • Use Herbes de Provences olive oil on your salmon fillet.
  • Use Sanguine Orange olive oil as a vinaigrette base in a grated carrot and beet salad.
  • Add a drizzle of Chipotle olive oil to your homemade pizza.
  • For those with irritable bowel syndrome, garlic-infused olive oil is for you! You can brush it on a piece of toast or add it to make a tasty side sauce with plain Greek yogurt and fresh herbs.

Please note that the information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for individualized therapeutic advice from a healthcare professional for a particular condition or other.

Written by Catherine Michaud, nutritionist-dietitian
References on request*


Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing