Health-promoting properties of oleocanthal and oleacein: Two secoiridoids from extra-virgin olive oil

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2020;60(15):2532-2548. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2019.1650715. Epub 2019 Aug 19.


Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) polyphenols, including the secoiridoids oleocanthal (OLC) and oleacein (OLE), are attracting attention because of their beneficial effects on health. Data on OLC and OLE bioavailability are scarce, as most research on EVOO polyphenols has concentrated on hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol, and oleuropein. Consequently, relevant goals for future research are the elucidation of OLC and OLE bioavailability and finding evidence for their beneficial effects through pre-clinical and clinical studies. The aim of this review is to shed light on OLC and OLE, focusing on their precursors in the olive fruit and the impact of agronomic and processing factors on their presence in EVOO. Also discussed are their bioavailability and absorption, and finally, their bioactivity and health-promoting properties.

Keywords: Mediterranean diet; bioactivity; bioavailability; food processing; metabolism; polyphenols; synergism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aldehydes / metabolism
  • Aldehydes / pharmacokinetics
  • Aldehydes / pharmacology*
  • Cyclopentane Monoterpenes / metabolism
  • Cyclopentane Monoterpenes / pharmacokinetics
  • Cyclopentane Monoterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Humans
  • Iridoids / metabolism
  • Iridoids / pharmacokinetics
  • Iridoids / pharmacology
  • Olive Oil / chemistry*
  • Phenols / metabolism
  • Phenols / pharmacokinetics
  • Phenols / pharmacology*


  • Aldehydes
  • Cyclopentane Monoterpenes
  • Iridoids
  • Olive Oil
  • Phenols
  • oleacein
  • oleocanthal