Virgin olive oil is a highly appreciated edible oil, considered as a relevant component of the Mediterranean diet. The spread of this foodstuff all over the world is making, to a certain extent, that new markets and consumers are getting used to this “Mediterranean’s golden treasure”. Currently, there is great momentum in research relating virgin olive oil intake to healthiness, which has been mainly associated with its phenolics content. Phenolics are considered health-promoting compounds due to their multifaceted biochemical actions that can potentially reduce the risk of various health problems. Yet, since the health-promoting effects of various phenolic compounds have been widely attributed to their metabolic products rather than the naturally occurring forms, the assessment of virgin olive oil phenolics bioavailability is still gaining immense attention and considered a great hot topic among researchers. In the first section of this contribution, the main groups of phenolic compounds identified in virgin olive oil are described, their qualitative and quantitative variability is discussed while analytical approaches applied for their determination are highlighted. The second section reports the beneficial health properties of virgin olive oil consumption related to its phenolics content paying special attention to their bioavailability.
Part of the book: Olive Oil