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Health FAQ

Health Benefits

Extra Virgin Olive Oils:  Oleic Acid and Polyphenols protect the body from disease (studies on cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.)

Balsamic Vinegars:  Probiotics promote regular digestion

Other Resources on Health Benefits:

Mediterranean Diet

Mayo Clinic: If Olive Oil is High in Fat, Why is it Healthy?

Olive Oil and Cancer

Olive Oil: more than just an oleic acid

Olive Oil and Breast Cancer


Chemistry Geek?

Chemistry is critical when it comes to assessing the quality of an extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).  The chemistry of an olive oil is dictated by many factors, including timing and harvesting – processing delay, picking at the right stage of ripeness, crushing quickly, and the process itself.  The chemistry is also influenced by olive variety and micro-climate conditions.

The International Olive Council (IOC) is an international trade organization that has set standards on “what makes an extra virgin olive oil”.  These standards are written by consensus and really represent the lowest common denominator.

Good Chemistry

Oleic Acid
A higher the oleic acid content, the higher the nutritional value and the shelf life of the oil.

Oleic acid is responsible for some of the health benefits of EVOO. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fat (omega 9). This is a healthy fat that is resistant to free radicals in the body. Free radicals are found in the body as a natural result of aging and expose to toxins. These free radicals can cause a chain reaction, like a domino effect, and can result in various disease states.

The higher the oleic acid content, the higher the nutritional value and the longer the shelf life of the olive oil.  Because of its high degree of resistance to attack by oxygen free radicals, higher levels of oleic acid in an olive oil will help keep it fresh for longer, by preventing the formation of peroxidized (rancid) fats.

Oleic Acid must be between 55-83 by IOC standards


Polyphenols determine the level of bitterness and pungency in the oil, which eventually determines the “style” and intensity of the oil (whether it is mild, medium or robust).  They also help to protect the quality and healthfulness of the oil during storage, as they sacrifice themselves to protect other components of the oil from free radicals.

Polyphenols are antioxidant substances that are responsible for many of the health benefits of EVOO.  Polyphenols levels are influenced by fruit varietal, season and harvesting time (an earlier harvest will generally produce oil with higher polyphenols than a later harvest).  Processing can also affect the levels of polyphenols.

Clinical trials show clearly that the higher level of polyphenols in olive oil, the greater the health benefits.  Polyphenols – a value between 220 and 400 can be considered high. 

Because of our importer’s high standards for growers, some of our oils have even higher levels of polyphenols between 500 and 600.

Bad Chemistry

Free Fatty Acid (FFA)

Free fatty acid indicates the general condition of the fruit from which the olive oil was pressed.  A higher free fatty acid level indicates hydrolyzed, fermented, bruised, or otherwise poor quality fruit.

Our standard for high quality olive oil is an FFA score below 0.35.  The IOC standard is below 0.8.

Peroxide Value (PV)

An elevated level of peroxide indicates oil that has been damaged by free radicals and is beginning to go rancid.   The result is a stale, unpleasant tasting oil.  The peroxide starting point when oil is first pressed is determined by the extraction process and storage conditions. 

High quality EVOO should have a peroxide value below 12.