Antioxidant activity of olive polyphenols in humans: a review

Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2009 May;79(3):152-65. doi: 10.1024/0300-9831.79.3.152.


In vitro and animal studies show that polyphenols from olives have potent antioxidant activities; 50 % of the phenolic compounds contained in olives and virgin olive oil are hydroxytyrosol and derivatives thereof. Hydroxytyrosol is the major olive polyphenol consumed and well absorbed in humans. It is considered to have the highest antioxidant potency compared to the other olive polyphenols. Review of the human intervention studies showed that olive polyphenols decreased the levels of oxidized-LDL in plasma and positively affected several biomarkers of oxidative damage. The antioxidant effects of olive polyphenols on low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation are observed after a dietary intake of about 10 mg per day. The overall evidence from in vitro assays, and animal and human studies support the antioxidant effect of olive polyphenols. However, further larger human studies are needed to clarify the effect of olive polyphenols on markers of oxidative stress, particularly DNA damage and plasma isoprostane levels.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage*
  • Diet, Mediterranean
  • Female
  • Flavonoids / administration & dosage*
  • Flavonoids / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / blood
  • Male
  • Olea / chemistry*
  • Olive Oil
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Phenols / administration & dosage*
  • Phenols / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / administration & dosage*
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Polyphenols


  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Olive Oil
  • Phenols
  • Plant Oils
  • Polyphenols
  • oxidized low density lipoprotein