There is an increasing debate on the accuracy of the HPLC traditional method of measuring individual (poly)phenols found in EVOO. (Extra Virgin Olive oil)
The IOC (International Olive Council) recognized testing method is the HPLC (High-performance liquid chromatography) This test requires the use of chemicals to be added to the EVOO. The HPLC method is based on direct extraction of the biophenolic minor polar compounds from EVOO by means of a methanol solution and subsequent quantification by HPLC with the aid of a UV detector at 280 nm. Syringic acid is used as the internal standard.
The problem is the HPLC method does not measure Oleocanthal and Oleacein directly. These two compounds are very sensitive and may be degraded by the use of chemicals and therefore HPLC method may not give an exact measurement.
There is a new method for direct measurement using NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) developed by Dr. Magiatis and his team of researchers at the Pharmacognosy and Natural products chemistry department at the University of Athens.
After a 5 year study they succeeded in developing the NMR method to measure Oleocanthal and Oleacein directly which has set a new standard for EVOO quality. This is a very crucial development for consumers and producers of extra EVOO. “It is astonishing that ancient reports by Dioscorides have correlated the health benefits of olive oil and especially its anti-inflammatory activity with the use of unripe olives, against conditions such as headache and toothache, which are clear indications of anti-inflammatory activity. The modern finding of the strong anti-inflammatory activity of oleocanthal and its potential health effects that confirmed the Ancient report prompted us to assume that the several varieties of olive oils could be classified on the basis of their content in Oleocanthal and related secoiridoids.”
If this new method was invented in the USA or any other more developed country instead of debt-laden Greece, it would have already been submitted and certified by the IOC (International Olive Council) as an officially accepted new method of measurement of EVOO.
I decided to conduct a side by side test using the HPLC method and the NMR method of direct measurement of these two compounds Oleocanthal and Oleacein.
The new NMR method has been peer-reviewed and published by the AOCS (American Oil Chemists Society) and in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Why is it so important that we have the ability to measure these Oleocanthal and Oleacein directly and more accurately?
Because these two compounds have been identified as key health promoting ingredients in EVOO. Not all olive oils have these two key compounds in abundance; some do not contain much at all regardless if they are fresh or win tasting awards. For those who want maximum health benefit from their EVOO they must be sure of the true amount of the health promoting compounds it contains.
The NMR Challenge
Which method of measuring Oleocanthal and Oleacein found in EVOO is more accurate? – NMR vs HPLC.
I submitted a sample of EVOO from the island of Thassos to Dr. Magiatis to test with the new method of measuring Oleocanthal and Oleacein directly using quantitative Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR).
I also submitted a sample from the same container of Thassos EVOO for analysis to a lab using HPLC method COI/T.20/Doc. 29:2009.
The Results for Oleocanthal and Oleacein – NMR vs HPLC
NMR method measured oleocanthal and oleacein as follows:
Oleocanthal also known as Dialdehydic form of decarboxymethyl ligstroide aglycone at 252 mg per kg.
Oleacein also known as Dialdehydic form of decarboxymethyl oleuropein aglycone at 50 mg per kg.
HPLC lab results for oleocanthal and oleacein were as follows:
Oleocanthal also known as Dialdehydic form of decarboxymethyl ligstroide aglycone at 52 mg per kg.
Oleacein also known as Dialdehydic form of decarboxymethyl oleuropein aglycone at 21 mg per kg.
These are very significant differences in both measurements NMR vs HPLC.
NMR measured the Oleocanthal at 5 times higher than HPLC.
NMR measured Oleacein at 2.5 times higher than HPLC.
Why the Difference?
The reason for this discrepancy between NMR vs HPLC may be these compounds are difficult to measure by the HPLC method. They most likely react with the water or methanol used during the mobile phase of liquid chromatography, or during the extraction procedure.
The current HPLC lab test does not seem to measure Oleocanthal and Oleacein in EVOO with consistent accuracy. Research is continuing to affirm the significance of these two compounds for their health promoting properties. Is it not time now to seriously look at this new, fast and accurate NMR method of direct measurement of Oleocanthal and Oleacein.
Unfortunately the Greek coalition government is not funding this new method of measurement so that it may be formally presented and validated by the EU or IOC (International Olive Oil Council).
I predict the NMR method of measuring Oleocanthal and Oleacein will become the new standard to measure the quality of EVOOs. It will give consumers an added tool to choose their EVOO based on its healthfulness.
There are obstacles and hurdles to overcome. A great deal of resistance from the other stakeholders with HPLC equipped labs is already evident. They fear some income loss from this new test being officially validated and more widely available. Fear can be an agent of paralysis or serve as an opportunity for creative solutions.
First hurdle to overcome is the cost of the far more sophisticated NMR equipment required for the new method of measurement. The cost for NMR equipment needed to conduct these tests could be over $700,000. Here in Greece the solution is simple; The other labs instead of trying to deny its validity should lobby the government to give the University lab where this test was invented official lab status. It can then conduct the testing on behalf of all the labs in Greece. The labs would be in a position to benefit from the use of the NMR equipment without even having to incur any costs in equipment or manpower. In this way the University is able to raise funds for further research and the HPLC labs get pure profit.
Then we have the politicians and their lobbyists, mega distributors, and traders, who see no financial benefit from a faster, more accurate method of measuring healthfulness of EVOOs. This new method of measurement does not decrease the value of any EVOO in by itself. EVOOs that win tasting awards and yet have very little of either of these two compounds will still win taste awards. However the NMR method may help create another taste category of EVOO based on the specific taste parameters exhibited by high levels of Oleocanthal and Oleacein – usually more pungent and more bitter. However, some varieties like the Throuba olive have a milder taste than usually found in EVOOs with high levels of these two compounds. It does help producers whose EVOOs contain elevated levels of Oleocanthal and Oleacein to receive higher prices for their product.
So far, it would seem the olive tree varieties (Throuba, Koroneiki, Lianolia, Wild Olive trees, Halkidiki, Tsounati, and a number of local varieties that were grafted from original wild olive trees) contain the highest amounts of Oleocanthal and Oleacein on average from the samples tested to date. There are over 100 varieties of olive trees in Greece.
Unfortunately Greece as everyone is aware has some economic difficulties to overcome. Politically they lack a comprehensive and visionary marketing plan. They stumble along on the tragedy paved road that is the modern Hellenic Republic. They are missing opportunities Left, Right and Centre. Like punch drunk boxers they move from one self created crisis to another. Still fighting amongst themselves instead of truly collaborating, taking more and giving less, destroying instead of building.
And yet this innovative new method of measurement was invented here in Greece in the midst of this economic crisis. With little resources and funding cut to zero, a team of dedicated scientists sought to understand why the Ancient Hellenes insisted that Olive Oil be pressed only from unripened olives.
in addition, there is a plethora of exceptional individuals here in Greece who are rekindling their passion for quality food production. They are taking very positive actions individually and together with innovative ideas and a deep sense of self-reliance. Combining their resources and knowhow to build new ways of marketing and distributing quality Greek food products worldwide.
We need your help
We need help from those interested in providing the most health promoting top quality EVOOs to health conscious consumers. Examine this new fast and accurate NMR method of directly measuring Oleocanthal and Oleacein more closely. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Find out the quantity of Oleocanthal and Oleacein in your EVOO. Here in Greece some EVOOs have been found to contain extremely high levels of Oleocanthal and Oleacein. These EVOOs have sold for over 20 euros per kilo in bulk.
Contact me to get your EVOO tested or for more info. http://bestoliveoil.ca/test-your-evoo/
Athan Gadanidis Tel: (30) 694-7287828 Athens, Greece