‘Oleocanthal’ was an unknown word for me until I started to learn about the health benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Today it is more familiar to me, even more so after going to a conference in Cordoba (Spain) on 21 November 2014 (after my two week olive oil course in Jaen).
Oleocanthal and Gary Beauchamp
The conference was conducted by the American scientist Gary Beauchamp ( Monell Center Philladelphia). He discovered this extraordinary component of high quality EVOO. I have to say that this was a fantastic opportunity for me as Gary B. very rarely comes to Spain. He explained how the discovery of ‘Oleocanthal’ accidentally happened. It was during an EVOO tasting session held in a molecular gastronomy meeting in Sicily. When tasting that EVOO, he was very surprised that he had the same stinging feeling in the back of his throat as when having ibuprofen. At that time he was working on a project with a British company that was trying to make its ibuprofen drug taste better.
Oleocanthal health benefits
Ibuprofen stings when it goes down our throat. As a result, he took some bottles of EVOO back with him and started to analyse it with his team. The studies concluded in 2005 with this unexpected finding of a molecule that they called “Oleocanthal”. It appears to be responsible for the burning sensation that occurs in the back of the throat when consuming good quality EVOO. He also explained its health benefits and similarities to ibuprofen. It has the same anti-inflammatory benefits for the human body as ibuprofen. It hasn’t the side-effects of the medicine, and that can help reduce the severity of both arthritis and asthma. Because of this we can say that Oleocanthal is therefore one of those minor components of EVOO that make it so unique and different from other fats (even though there many oils on the market that try to imitate or compare with it).
Thank you Gary Beauchamp for coming to Spain and sharing your discovery with us. A big thanks too to the organisers, QvExtra, for making this unforgettable event possible.