The third conference of the International Oleocanthal Society took place at earlier this month (between 2 & 3 June) in a location of significant importance for the history of Olive Oil....in Ancient Olympia. During the two days of the conference, issues related to the beneficial effects of important active ingredients such as the oleocanthal in the consul and other related topics were discussed. The aim of the conference was to bring together scientists and producers interested on high phenolic oils while a new competition format called "Olympia Health & Nutrition Awards" was introduced, for oils with the highest content of health-protecting phenolics.
Dr. Prokopios Magiatis, vice-president of OIS, presented the Olympia Health & Nutrition Awards presented this new olive oil competition as the most verifiable and objective competition in the world. “We hope this becomes a regular event and we meet here at Olympia again to reveal the healthiest olives oils in the world.”
Dan Flynn from UC Davis Olive Center gave a rousing speech on the need for more imaginative marketing of oleocanthal-rich olive oil in order to capture a section of the lucrative functional food market in the USA, which is the world leading market in this field.
Prof Eric Tangalos from the Mayo clinic explained the rise of Alzheimer’s and its impact on the individuals and their families. Early detection is vital for the management of this disease with preventative measures like leading an active lifestyle and proper nutrition including olive oil along with development of new drug therapies.
John William Newman PhD, a research chemist with the US dept. of Agriculture, at the Western Human Nutrition Research center in Davis California, described the clinical research conducted on the effect of oleocanthal rich olive oil on blood platelet aggregation. The results suggest that Oleocanthal rich olive oil has an effect on blood platelet aggregation similar to ibuprofen in certain individuals.
Dr. Eleni Melliou revealed the discovery of a new varietal of olive tree found near and around Olympia. This varietal, including trees of more than 1500 years old, was remaining neglected and unnamed and Melliou proposed the name of cultivar Olympia for this olive tree because it was discovered in the areas surrounding Olympia. The interesting fact about this olive tree is that it produces high amounts of olive oil with extremely high phenolic compounds.
Dr. Ramon Estruch explained the results of the PREDIMED study which clearly show that a diet rich in high-unsaturated fat derived from olive oil is better for cardiovascular health than a lower-fat diet, and was successful in older persons at high risk of CVD (cardio vascular disease).
Stefanos Kales from Harvard Medical School described the ongoing study on 1000 firemen that will follow Mediterranean diet with selected olive oils.
Prof Amal Kaddoumi from the University of Louisiana at Monroe described the results of her research on the effect of high oleocanthal olive oil on Alzheimer disease. “Results of our studies support the beneficial and protective effect of EVOO against AD (Alzheimer Disease) and CAA (Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy)”
Mary Flynn PhD associate professor of Medicine at Brown University, itemized the benefits of plant-based olive oil rich diet. In her talk “Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food” Dr. Flynn expressed her opinion that perhaps olive oil is more of a medicine than a food.
Bouaziz Mohamed PhD explained how Tunisia has developed their olive oil production based on its added value and health benefits where modern farming and traditional methods co-exist harmoniously.
Ongoing research at the University of Athens was highlighted by numerous presentations. Stability of high phenolic olive oils under different storage conditions presented by Annia Tsolakou; The optimization of Aristoleo test and comparison with Folin and NMR methods, by Iliana Kalaboki, and the impact of malaxation time and temperature on oleocanthal content of olive oil by Panagiotis Diamantakos. Also, the first clinical trial of Kalamata table olives and their positive impact on LDL/HDL ratio was presented by Martha-Spyridoula Katsarou PhD. Feliciano Priego from University of Cordoba demonstrated a new method for LC-MS/MS measurement of oleocanthal that was also employed in the first ongoing bioavailability study of oleocanthal performed by Prof. Li Li Ji in the Univ. of Minnesota. Dr. Lagouri presented a new method for on line monitoring of olive oil quality and also lectures were given by Konstantinos and Apostolos Kyritsakis, prof. Gertsis from the American Farm School and prof. Demopoulos from the TEI of Peloponnese.
This being an Olympic year, OIS they decided to include an award ceremony to recognize the olive oils that contain the highest phenolic content such as oleocanthal, the olive mills that are innovating and people and companies that promote research and development, and those that create gastronomic recipes using these high oleocanthal olive oils.
The highest oleocanthal olive oil was “The Governor” 966 mg per kg produced by the Dafnis family derived from Lianolia olive tree. The highest in total phenolics was the “Drop of Life” 3076 mg per kg produced by the Mathiopoulos family which is derived from the newly discovered “Olympia” variety. In total 565 samples were submitted to the competition from 325 producers from Greece, Spain, Italy, USA, Cyprus, Morocco and Uruguay.
OIS conference was co-organized by the Region of Western Greece with the support of the ancient city of Olympia and the International Olympic academy and the many sponsors from the olive oil industry in Greece. Dr. Magiatis remarked: “I am overwhelmed with the amount of economic support given by the Greek olive growers themselves especially during this difficult economic times. A big thank you to all our sponsors and supporters that made this event possible”
All the awards, lectures, videos and photos of the Olympia conference are currently available on www.olympiaconference.gr