Sep 14, 2017 Extracts, Olive 0 comment

The olive tree, a plant with a lot of potential for Nutraceuticals.

The Nutraceutical Industry is booming. More and more studies support the efficacy of natural dietary supplements in preventing, and even treating, certain diseases. The growth of this sector require to invest in research, train experts and offer products with high functionality. In this sense, the olive is an ideal ingredient but its potential is still not being fully exploited.


The olive tree, one of the first medicinal plants.

There are numerous international studies that associate the Mediterranean Diet with better health indexes, a higher longevity rate and a lower incidence of diseases related to cellular aging such as cancer and many of the cardiovascular and cognitive pathologies.

Two of the keys in the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet come from the olive tree: oil and olives. The characteristics of its fat and the presence of important phenols explain its healthy properties.

The proximity of the product (the olive is an indigenous plant of the Mediterranean), its flavor and the possibilities for cooking make it one of the most popular products since ancient times. And the same happens with its therapeutic properties, as olive have being used in medicinal remedies for centuries.

Hydroxytyrosol, key in the healthy benefits of the olive tree.

The benefits of olive are usually attributed to the unsaturated fatty acids, the major component of the fruit. But they also depend, and significantly, on the phenolic compounds.

These compounds, also called polyphenols, are minor in the olive tree but, despite their low amount, they are very bioactive molecules. One of the most important functions is to inhibit or retard the oxidation of other molecules, thus preventing the initiation processes of oxidative chain reactions. To put in another way, polyphenols act like antioxidant agents since they have the capacity to capture free radicals, those molecules that by their chemical composition cause oxidative stress in others.

The most powerful antioxidant in olive oil is the Hydroxytyrosol. Scientific studies attribute to this molecule numerous positive effects on the health, which can be determinant in the appearance of a disease.

Hydroxytyrosol functions

The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) specifically recognizes the ability of this molecule to slow the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL or bad cholesterol), which is key to halting the onset and development of cardiovascular disease such as atherosclerosis.

This recognition from EFSA allows products containing Hydroxytyrosol from the olive tree to use its cardiovascular benefits as an advertising claim since the European agency has aproved the health claim related to this molecule.

Taking olive oil is not enough.

The EFSA authorization comes in small print. According to the panel of experts, to obtain the benefits of Hydroxytyrosol, people must consume a minimum of 5 mg of it per day. In the case of oil, this quantity can only be obtained from virgin olive oils (AOV) and as long as it contains a minimum of 250mg of Hydroxytyrosol per kilo of oil, which is difficult to find on supermarket shelves.

Nutraceutical, the solution to make the most of the properties of the olive tree.

One of the best ways to take this amount goes through nutraceuticals. Dietary or pharmacological supplements in the form of tablets or capsules contain a greater amount of bioactive components than the food or plant from which they come (in this case, the olive tree).

Extracts, the formula to transfer Hydroxytyrosol to Nutraceuticals.

Hydroxytyrosol extracts are the best way to incorporate this compound into a nutraceutical product. Extraction processes consist in isolating the compounds that we are interested in and standardizing them in a certain concentration for being used as ingredients of products that can be taken orally. In the case of Hydroxytryrosol applied to nutraceuticals, the best formula is the extract from the fruit (not from the leaf), standardized to 20% and in the form of podwer.

More about plant extracts.


First uses of olive extracts in medicine.

Olive extracts are not new in nutraceuticals. The first bibliographic sources are from the year 1854 and refer to its use as a treatment against fever and malaria.

Advantages of Nutraceutical Supplements with Hydroxytyrosol.


  • They are of natural origin.
  • They come from purified extracts.
  • They provide the necessary dose to minimize the appearance of certain diseases.
  • Its effectiveness is scientifically proven and endorsed by EFSA.
  • Studies on market trends indicate that the concepts ‘natural’ and ‘active’ will mark the development of new products in the future.

Towards the future of personalized medicine.

Medicine and nutrition tend towards treatments and feeding plans adapted to the specific needs of each individual. Not always the same medicine, dose or diet fit to everybody.

In this sense, well-prescribed dietary supplements help to adjust treatments to the requirements of patients and consumers.


At Nutexa we offer consulting services to nutraceutical companies that want to use Hydroxytyrosol extracts. Click on this link for contact us.


  1. Sofi F, Cesari F, Abbate R, Gensini GF, Casini A. Adherence to Mediterranean diet and health status: meta-analysis. BMJ. 2008 Sep 11;337
  2. Rietjens SJ, Bast A, de Vente J, Haenen GR. The olive oil antioxidant hydroxytyrosol efficiently protects against the oxidative stress-induced impairment of the NObullet response of isolated rat aorta. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2007 Apr.
  3. Visioli, F., Bernardini, E., Extra virgin olive oil’s polyphenols: biological activities. Curr. Pharm. Des. 2011, 17, 786– 804.
  4. Trends in age-specific coronary heart disease mortality in the European Union over three decades: 1980–2009. Nichols, M.; Townsend, N.; Scarborough, P.; Rayner, M. European Heart Journal
  5. Minor Components of Olive Oil: Evidence to Date of Health Benefits in Humans. Covas, M.I., Visioli, F. et al. Nutrition Reviews, Vol. 64, No. 9
  6. Lipoproteínas de baja densidad oxidadas. Rev Electron Biomed / Electron J Biomed 2008;3:52-60.- Calmarza, P.
  7. Review Nutraceutical Properties of Olive Oil Polyphenols. An Itinerary from Cultured Cells through Animal Models to Humans. Stefania Rigacci and Massimo Stefani. Department of Biomedical Experimental and Clinical Sciences, University of Florence.


The olive tree, a plant with a lot of potential for Nutraceuticals.
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The olive tree, a plant with a lot of potential for Nutraceuticals.
The olive tree opens a great field of possibilities to Nutraceuticals. In this post we explain how to get nutraceuticals products from the olive.