Comprehensive analysis of polyphenols in 55 extra virgin olive oils by HPLC-ECD and their correlation with antioxidant activities

Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2012 Dec;67(4):326-36. doi: 10.1007/s11130-012-0315-z.


In this study, we analyzed eight phenolic compounds (tyrosol, hydroxytyrosol, oleuropein, pinoresinol, and caffeic, ferulic, vanillic, and p-coumaric acid) in 55 mono- and multivarietal extra virgin olive oil samples by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) coupled to a coulometric electrochemical array detector (ECD). The phenolic profile of olive oil samples differed depending on the geographical origin and olive variety. The total reducing capacity (total phenolics) of olive oils ranged from about 40 to 530 mg gallic acid equivalents/kg oil. Tyrosol, hydroxytyrosol and pinoresinol were the most abundant phenolic compounds in olive oils. The antioxidant capacity of the olive oil extracts was determined by ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP) and Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC) assays. Total reducing capacity was significatly correlated with FRAP (R² = 0.91, p < 0.001) and TEAC (R² = 0.92, p < 0.001) values. Total reducing capacity, TEAC and FRAP values were significantly correlated with tyrosol, hydroxytyrosol as well as oleuropein concentrations. Hydroxytyrosol, comprising over 40 % of total olive oil phenolics, mainly contributed to the antioxidant activity of olive oils. The present study provides a comprehensive database of polyphenols in olive oils from 9 different countries and four continents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / analysis*
  • Antioxidants / isolation & purification
  • Australia
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods*
  • Databases, Chemical
  • Electrochemistry / methods*
  • Europe
  • Geography
  • Olea / chemistry*
  • Olive Oil
  • Plant Oils / chemistry*
  • Plant Oils / isolation & purification
  • Polyphenols / analysis*
  • Polyphenols / isolation & purification
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • South Africa
  • United States


  • Antioxidants
  • Olive Oil
  • Plant Oils
  • Polyphenols