Development and Innovation

At the Interprofesional we are committed to research, development and innovation. Therefore, we are carrying out a series of scientific studies with the main research centres in the country aimed at identifying the main benefits of olive pomace oil for consumers.

Through scientific research, we seek to debunk myths, uphold the quality of one of the best oils in the world, and discover new innovation processes that make possible the production, distribution and consumption of olive pomace oil.

Investigación, desarrollo e innovación

Scientific studies

Behaviour of Olive Pomace Oil in frying and comparison with conventional and high-oleic sunflower oils

Research centre: Food and Nutrition Science and Technology Institute – CSIC

Project summary:
Frying is one of the most common culinary techniques and is a widely used practice, both domestically and industrially. It is a very complex process that involves numerous reactions, due to the oxygen in the air, the high temperature and the water coming from the food. The suitability of a frying oil is related, above all, to its resistance to thermal oxidation, and the main variables associated with the oil that influence it are its degree of unsaturation and the nature and content of its minor compounds having protective effects. In addition, there are important differences depending on the type of frying; that is, whether the process is continuous (industrial frying) or discontinuous (domestic frying, in restaurants, fast food establishments, cafeterias, etc.). The behaviour of olive pomace oil in relation to conventional and high oleic sunflower oils has not been evaluated in rigorous and systematic scientific studies. Considering its composition and physiochemical characteristics, this project expects clearly better results for olive pomace oil, due to its high concentrations of oleic acid, than for conventional sunflower oil, even if the latter is rich in antioxidants (tocopherols). With regards to high-oleic sunflower oils whose fatty acid content is similar to that of olive pomace oil, the primary advantage of the latter are its protective frying compounds, such as squalene and phytosterols.

This study aims to provide the necessary scientific basis to demonstrate that olive pomace oil is more suitable for frying than sunflower oils, both conventional and modified “high-oleic sunflower”, in both domestic and industrial frying.

Profile of the principal investigator:
Gloria Márquez Ruiz is a Scientific Researcher at the Food and Nutrition Science and Technology Institute (ICTAN-CSIC), where he has been working since 1986, and her main research focus is the study of frying oils: quality and stability, development of analysis methods, antioxidant activity, etc. Her research in this field has contributed to the development of new analytical methods for the evaluation of alteration compounds formed in frying and quality control, including the validation of rapid methods for their determination in the hospitality sector, small establishments and cafeterias. She has also extensively studied the influence of numerous variables (temperature, surface area / volume of oil, degree of unsaturation of oil, etc.) on the alteration of different oils, and the effectiveness of different antioxidants (synthetic and natural). The major differences found with regards to the type of frying (continuous and discontinuous) and the interactions between food and oil are also topics addressed by Dr. Márquez in the frying area. She has also carried out research on the digestibility of frying oils and new compounds formed in animal specimens, and on the changes these compounds undergo under gastric and intestinal conditions. Dr. Márquez has published 126 scientific articles and 34 book chapters, directed 6 doctoral theses; and participated in 33 competitive national and international projects, and on 16 contracts with industries and private companies. She has presented the results of her research at 87 scientific congresses and has been awarded the Prize for the Best Oral Communication by the American Oil Chemists’ Society (Indianapolis, 1996), the Prize issued by the Brazilian Society of Fats and Oils for her “Contribution to Analytical Knowledge in the Area of ​​Oils and Fats” (Campinas, 2008), the selection of Lipid Technology (Research Highlights) as one of the best scientific publications in 2003 and 2008, and the Edwin Frankel Award, from the American Oil Chemists’ Society (Salt Lake City, 2016), for the best publication in “Lipid Oxidation and Quality”.

After 7 months of intense lab work at Spain’s Food and Nutrition Science and Technology Institute (ICTAN), attached to the Scientific Research Council (CSIC), it has been shown that Olive Pomace Oil, in comparison to sunflower and high oleic sunflower oils, possesses properties that make it ideal to obtain the healthiest, crunchiest and most golden fried foods. This conclusion was reached after examining three batches of each of these oils, pertaining to different phases of the campaign. All the frying involved potatoes, in every case replicating in the laboratory the continuous (industrial) and discontinuous (domestic) frying modalities. Parameters like the oil’s quality and the modifications that both the oil and the food undergo during frying were analysed.

Its composition, rich in oleic acid and exclusive bioactive compounds, like squalene and beta-sitosterol, furnishes Olive Pomace Oil with special properties having a protective effect for the oil itself, making it longer lasting and more stable, and for health, with beneficial effects on the body.

After the results obtained it was concluded that Olive Pomace Oil performs much better when frying than conventional sunflower oils and other similar ones, and even slightly better than high oleic sunflower oils. All this demonstrates the quality of Olive Pomace Oil and its aptness for use in frying, thanks to its properties, duration and cost-effectiveness.

Protection against Alzheimer’s disease offered by pomace oil, by attenuating the activation of microglia

Research centre: Instituto de la Grasa-CSIC

Project summary:
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, whose prevalence will grow in the coming years, so it is urgent to take preventive and therapeutic measures to address it. This disease is characterised by the cerebrovascular accumulation of protein deposits enriched in amyloid-beta (Aβ) as a consequence of alterations of the blood-brain barrier. More than 60% of plasmatic Aβ is associated with lipoproteins rich in triglycerides, higher in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. These lipoproteins are also responsible for transporting the fat-soluble components of food through the bloodstream.

Microglia act as macrophages residing in the brain and play a crucial role in most neuropathologies, as they are activated after alterations in the homeostasis of the brain are detected, and surround the amyloid plaques in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients. As a result of this activation, a large number of pro-inflammatory markers are released, mediated by alterations in the oxidative state. It is believed that some of the components of the olive pomace oil could modulate the oxidative stress and the inflammatory response in these cells, separately or synergistically.

This study aims to demonstrate that lipoproteins, rich in triglycerides, are capable of activating microglia, but that this activation could be attenuated through the incorporation of olive pomace oil components into these particles, which could prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease. If so, the results of the project would lay the foundations for the development of new applications for olive pomace oil to health and, in particular, to reduce the risk of the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Profile of the principal investigator:
Javier Sánchez Perona has been a Senior Scientist at the Instituto de la Grasa-CSIC since 2008, and works on knowledge of the mechanisms involved in the transport and metabolism of lipids in humans, as well as on the impact of dietary fats and lipophilic bioactive compounds on pathophysiological processes. His research has shown that the interaction and intracellular response to postprandial lipoproteins are selective in vascular cells. He also demonstrated that the consumption of olive oil reduces blood pressure in elderly hypertensive patients through changes in the structure of the cell membrane. He has also observed that the changes in the composition of lipoproteins caused by the consumption of olive oil are due, at least in part, to their content of minor bioactive components, modulating metabolic processes in different cell types. He is currently researching the influence of lipid composition in diets on the processes involved in metabolic disorders associated with excess weight and obesity. The results obtained show that the consumption of a Mediterranean-type breakfast favours a lower postprandial lipidemic response in obese individuals, and contributes to maintaining adequate lipid homeostasis in people of normal weight. In addition, the consumption of this type of breakfast stimulates a lesser release of inflammation mediators in people with normal weight, while obese people require previous weight loss to benefit from this effect. The results obtained so far have led to the publication of 70 scientific articles, 2 patents, 14 book chapters and 3 doctoral theses. He has presented the results of his research at multiple scientific forums and congresses, and was awarded the Exxentia of Phytotherapy and Nutrition (2006), IAMED (2007), as well as the Best Young Researcher Award at the 2nd International Symposium on Triglycerides and HDL, (New York, 2005) and the prize for the Best Oral Communication at the II FESNAD Congress (Barcelona, ​​2010).

Evaluation of the health effects of olive pomace oil in healthy consumers and high-risk populations

Research centre: Food and Nutrition Science and Technology Institute – CSIC

Project summary:
Cardiovascular disease
is a highly prevalent pathology in Western societies, responsible for substantial socio-sanitary spending worldwide. Thus, any contribution to progress in possible prevention tools would be of great value, offering the consumer more information about the benefits associated with a healthy lifestyle and diet. The Mediterranean Diet is recognised as an excellent one, characterised by, among other aspects, the consumption of monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil. In the same way, olive pomace oil is a preferred monounsaturated fat also containing a wide range of minor components (triterpene acids and dialcohols, squalene, tocopherols, sterols, aliphatic fatty alcohols and phenolic compounds) featuring potential biological activity, key to maintaining health.

The specific purpose of the project is to assess the potentially beneficial role of olive pomace oil after its consumption in nutritional doses on biomarkers of cardiovascular health and associated pathologies (hypertension, diabetes and obesity), through an intervention involving healthy volunteers and high-risk subjects (hypercholesterolemic), compared to another widely used seed oil. By demonstrating that the consumption of olive pomace oil possesses beneficial health properties, its consumption would be clearly enhanced in our diet, and in the foreign market, in addition to contributing to the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease and other risk factors and pathologies highly prevalent in the population.

Profile of the principal investigator:
Raquel Mateos Briz has been a Senior Scientist at the Food and Nutrition Science and Technology Institute (ICTAN-CSIC) since 2009. She is a member of the Metabolism and Bioactivity of Phytochemicals (BIOCELL) research group, led by Professor Laura Bravo, who conducts research into the beneficial health effects of bioactive compounds of plant foods, mainly phenolic compounds. The activities range from the chemical characterisation of nutrients and phytochemicals in foods to the study of their beneficial health properties, evaluating their bioavailability and action mechanisms through basic studies, applied both in vitro / ex vivo (cell lines), and in animal specimens with diverse pathologies, and validating the real effect of the consumption of food or dietary supplements in clinical trials in humans (healthy population and risk groups). The results yielded by these studies contribute to knowledge of the nutrition-based prevention of pathologies related to oxidative stress (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity) through the consumption of foods rich in phytochemical compounds. The results obtained so far have led to the publication of 85 scientific articles, 3 patents, 102 presentations at domestic and international scientific conferences, and several book chapters. With regards to training research personnel, she has directed 3 doctoral theses and several DEAs / Master’s theses. Her scientific-technical objectives in the medium / long term include complementary aspects for the prevention of diseases through the consumption of foods rich in bioactive compounds, either natural or functional, as well as nutraceuticals.

Complete description and evaluation of the bioactive components of olive pomace oil in fried foods

Research Centre: Instituto de la Grasa (IG)

Project summary:
Olive Pomace Oil, in addition to a fatty acid composition rich in monounsaturated acids, and balanced in unsaturated fatty acids, as in olive oils, is known for its high content of bioactive compounds, which boast health benefits. The objective of this project is to spotlight the added value that the use of Olive Pomace Oil offers, analysing the content and nature of these compounds before and after frying, as well as their absorption in fried foods.

Through the analysis of 15 batches of Olive Pomace Oil (five per campaign, for three consecutive seasons) the following bioactive and antioxidant compounds will be evaluated: tocopherols, phytosterols, squalene, specific phenolic compounds, alcohols and triterpene acids, and aliphatic fatty alcohols. The samples will also allow for the analysis of regulatory and quality parameters for frying oils, encompassing Rancimat stability, smoke point, polar compounds and polymer percentage indicators.

At the same time, Olive Pomace Oil’s performance in frying will be evaluated relative to that of seed oils, anti-foam seed oils, and mixtures of oils marketed for frying, in both the continuous (industrial) and discontinuous (domestic) frying modes, with a representative variety of high-consumption products: pre-fried, breaded, battered, etc.

Principal investigator: Dra. María Victoria Ruiz Méndez

Research team:
Dra. Gloria Márquez Ruiz
Dr. Joaquín Velasco

Profile of the principal investigator:
Mª Victoria Ruiz Méndez, Doctor of Chemical Sciences and Scientific Researcher at the CSIC, has been responsible for the Experimental Extraction and Refining Plant of the Instituto de la Grasa (IG) since 1991. Her scientific career since then has been dedicated to processes of oil extraction, refining and applications, as she has participated in a large number of projects, with more than 100 national and international publications. In relation to the current project, several research contracts have been executed under her direction on olive pomace oils, obtained in two phases, in wet storage, as well as the use of by-products. The objective of these studies has been the characterisation of crude pomace oils to optimise the refining process, and of by-products of particular interest, such as deodorisation distillates. The research group is made up of Dr Gloria Márquez Ruiz and Dr Joaquín Velasco, renowned for their professional experience in the area of refining and frying processes.