Oleocanthal and the Mediterranean Diet


Olive oil is a staple in many kitchens around the world, and for good reason. It is an excellent source of healthy fats, vitamins, and antioxidants. One particular compound found in olive oil, oleocanthal, has gained attention for its potential health benefits.

Oleocanthal is a phenolic compound found in extra-virgin olive oil. It is responsible for the peppery, pungent taste that is characteristic of high-quality olive oil. While oleocanthal is only present in small amounts, research suggests that it may have significant health benefits.

One study found that oleocanthal has anti-inflammatory properties similar to ibuprofen, a common over-the-counter pain reliever. Researchers believe that oleocanthal works by inhibiting the activity of cyclooxygenase enzymes, which are involved in the inflammatory response. This makes it a promising natural alternative to traditional pain relievers.

In addition to its anti-inflammatory effects, oleocanthal has also been shown to have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are important for protecting the body against oxidative stress, which is thought to contribute to the development of chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease.

Another study found that oleocanthal may also have neuroprotective properties. Researchers believe that oleocanthal works by breaking down amyloid-beta plaques, which are characteristic of Alzheimer's disease. While more research is needed, these findings suggest that consuming olive oil rich in oleocanthal may be beneficial for brain health.

Overall, oleocanthal is an intriguing compound that may have numerous health benefits. While more research is needed to fully understand its effects, incorporating extra-virgin olive oil into your diet is a simple and delicious way to potentially reap the benefits of oleocanthal.


  • Parkinson, L., & Cicerale, S. (2016). The Health Benefiting Mechanisms of Oleocanthal, a Phenolic Derived from Virgin Olive Oil: A Review of the Evidence. International journal of molecular sciences, 17(2), 290.
  • Beauchamp, G. K., Keast, R. S. J., Morel, D., Lin, J., Pika, J., Han, Q., ... & Breslin, P. A. S. (2005). Phytochemistry: ibuprofen-like activity in extra-virgin olive oil. Nature, 437(7055), 45-46.
  • Abuznait, A. H., Qosa, H., Busnena, B. A., El Sayed, K. A., & Kaddoumi, A. (2013). Olive-oil-derived oleocanthal enhances β-amyloid clearance as a potential neuroprotective mechanism against Alzheimer's disease: in vitro and in vivo studies. ACS chemical neuroscience, 4(6), 973-982.


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