Healthy Greek extra virgin olive oils win international awards

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Healthy Greek extra virgin olive oils win international awardsInternational olive oil competitions have begun to present awards for healthy elements as well as flavor

By Lisa Radinovsky

Are you looking for food that is both tasty and nutritious? Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is the perfect choice. With scientists finding more evidence for EVOO’s health benefits all the time, international olive oil competitions have begun to present awards for healthy elements as well as flavor. In 2020, Greek EVOOs earned many awards in both categories.

Extra virgin olive oil’s health benefits have been discussed in untold numbers of popular and scientific articles. There is scientific evidence that these benefits may include reducing inflammation, improving levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood glucose, and helping to avoid or alleviate depression, type 2 diabetes, strokes, certain cancers, Alzheimer's disease, and heart disease.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority have recognized that olive oil can help control cholesterol levels when used in place of animal fat, with both organizations authorizing specific health claims for olive oil.

Scientists have shown that many of extra virgin olive oil’s health benefits are due to its phenolic compounds (also called polyphenols and bio-phenols). These compounds have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties that can help prevent many serious diseases. Some of these polyphenols have also shown antiviral activity in laboratory experiments—an exciting discovery that needs additional investigation. There are more polyphenols in some olive oils than others. Several international competitions now recognize this distinction with awards based on polyphenol content or on the level of specific phenols, such as oleocanthal.

The G-Team’s HYPERELEON® high phenolic EVOO won an impressive number of these awards this year. These include 2nd place for Healthy Bio-Phenols Composition, 3rd Place for Healthy Oleocanthal Composition, and 3rd place overall at the World Best Healthy EVOO Contest, as well as a Platinum award for high polyphenols at the Berlin Global Olive Oil Awards (GOOA) and another Platinum in the Health Claim category at the London International Olive Oil Competition (IOOC). Dimitrios Mourlas told Greek Liquid Gold HYPERELEON’s success is due to his team’s cultivation, harvesting, production, transportation, and storage methods, such as their “exemplary biodynamic organic cultivation, an extremely early harvest,” use of ventilated containers, cold extraction within a few hours of the harvest, and “natural sedimentation instead of filtering.” G-Team procedures “preserve the maximum concentration of natural, extremely beneficial ingredients” in their EVOO, “as these ingredients seem to contribute to the protection of human health” by helping to fight serious diseases.

Theodoros Koutsotheodoris produces another “powerful superfood, as shown by the extremely high levels of antioxidants” in his single estate organic EVOO, Olive Poem - a drop of art. This year, OIive Poem won Extra Gold quality prizes from the BIOL and BIOLNovello competitions for organic EVOOs, plus designation as Best of Greece at the former and Top 13 at the latter. Olive Poem also took home a Gold Health Claim award at the London IOOC and a Gold for high phenolic content at the Olympia Health & Nutrition Awards (Olympia Awards), as well as Gold quality awards at the London, Athena, and EVO IOOCs, among others. Koutsotheodoris explained that his “work is based on respect for nature and the trees and a lot of study and effort in order to get the best result” at a “small production plant which allows full control” of the process.

Working at Bläuel Greek Organic Products, a larger operation in southern Greece, Silvia Lazzari attributed MANI EVOOs’ success to a “long, close cooperation with hundreds of producers” and strict, efficient selection of “only the very best” products for 40 years. The results of their work include Gold awards for high polyphenols from the Berlin GOOA and the Olympia Awards for their MANI Polyphenol Natives Olivenöl Extra, a Gold quality award from the BIOL competition for MANI organic Greek extra virgin olive oil, and the Best of Greece quality award at EVO IOOC for the same EVOO. Lazzari reported to Greek Liquid Gold that their team is “absolutely delighted” by these awards, which offer “great encouragement” and help “build consumers' trust.”

George Mathiopoulos said his team at the Greek Olive Estate also “couldn't be happier” about their awards. Their Drop of Life Organic, Drop of Life Limited Reserve, and PhenOLIV Organic EVOOs took home Gold Olympia Awards for high polyphenol content, with PhenOLIV Organic’s phenol measurement the highest among Greek producers tested there and second highest among all entrants. The Greek Olive Estate also captured a Platinum medal for high polyphenols from Berlin GOOA for Drop of Life Organic. Mathiopoulos told Greek Liquid Gold that his team works with “a splendid olive variety” called Olympia, Choraitiki, or Nemoutiana, which has been “grafted on wild olive trees that have been there for hundreds of years,” yielding “a really unique olive oil.” Eight years of work “to improve our procedure means we can consistently produce olive oil with really high polyphenols.”

Working with wild olive trees using a different kind of innovation, the team at E-LA-WON has launched a new blend of EVOO from wild olive trees (Agrielia) and EVOO from Botsikolia variety olives. This new creation, Super Premium Elawon, won a Platinum award for high polyphenols at the Berlin GOOA and a Gold award for high phenolic content at the Olympia Awards. E-LA-WON’s Premium EVOO also won a Gold Olympia Award this year. Ioannis Kampouris linked this success in making EVOOs with extra health benefits to his team’s early October harvest of their olives, extraction of the oil within just three hours, and use of the inert gas nitrogen to exclude from the bottles any oxygen that could harm the olive oil.

Athina Theodorakopoulou, a researcher working on biodynamic cultivation at the University of Patras, has helped two olive oil companies on the island of Antiparos and another in Zakynthos find new ways to make extra healthy EVOOs in cooperation with a research program in the Biology Department at the University. Made with olives grown organically using agrobiodynamic management, these EVOOs are so healthy that they are participating in clinical studies about olive oil’s health benefits.

Working with Koroneiki and Lianolia olives with advice from Theodorakopoulou, Think Greece has had great success with Eleagnos EVOO, which earned a Double Gold medal at the Aristoleo Awards for “high phenolic content with perfect taste,” a Gold for high phenolic content at the Olympia Health & Nutrition Awards, and Gold medals for quality at the London IOOC and the Olymp Awards. Made from Koroneiki, Askouda, and Kolovi olives with help from Theodorakopoulou, Ioanna Martinou’s Holy Oil EVOO also took home a Double Gold from the Aristoleo Awards and a Gold from the Olympia Awards for health benefits, as well as Silver quality awards from the London IOOC and the Olymp Awards.

Hailing from the island of Zakynthos in the Ionian Sea, on the other side of the Peloponnese peninsula, Therianos Family High Phenolic Olive Oil also earned a Double Gold Aristoleo Award and a Gold Olympia Award for its high polyphenol content with the assistance of Theodorakopoulou. “From the moment the tree prepares to give birth and grow its fruits,” Dimitris Therianos explained, “we are completely connected with it, starting from the way we take care of it and continuing until the moment we take its fruit.” Therianos views trees as “living organisms, hundreds and thousands of years old.” The soil and the microclimate, as well as the cultivation, harvesting, and oil extraction methods all make a difference to these organisms and what they give us.

Many producers of especially healthy extra virgin olive oil quote the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates (the “father” of western medicine), who considered olive oil “the great healer” and prescribed it for more than 60 medical conditions. He urged, “let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food.” While some of us may not wish to conflate food and medicine today, scientific studies have provided extensive evidence that extra virgin olive oil can help improve and protect our health, and its potential as a functional food or nutraceutical is being explored. With extra virgin olive oils’ varied flavors and culinary uses already well established, EVOOs are ideal for consumers who are interested in both flavor and health.

2020 Awards for Greece’s Top Winners in the Health Benefits Category

Awards listed are for health benefits or high phenolic content for extra virgin olive oils, except where quality awards (for EVOO flavor and aroma) are indicated

G-Team (Selected Awards)

  • World Best Healthy EVOO Contest – 3rd Place Overall – HYPERELEON®   
  • World Best Healthy EVOO Contest – 2nd Place for Healthy Bio-Phenols Composition – HYPERELEON®   
  • World Best Healthy EVOO Contest – 3rd Place for Healthy Oleocanthal Composition – HYPERELEON®   
  • London IOOC – Platinum – HYPERELEON®   
  • Berlin GOOA – Platinum – HYPERELEON®        
  • Japan Olive Oil Prize – Gold for Quality (Organic) – HYPERELEON®   
  • Aristoleo Awards – Double Gold – HYPERELEON®   
  • Olympia Health & Nutrition Awards – Gold – HYPERELEON®

Olive Poem - a drop of art

  • BIOL – Extra Gold & Best of Greece for Quality (Organic) – Olive Poem
  • BIOLNovello – Extra Gold & Top 13 for Quality (Organic) – Olive Poem
  • London IOOC – Gold for Quality – Olive Poem
  • London IOOC – Gold – Olive Poem
  • Berlin GOOA – Gold for Quality – Olive Poem
  • Athena IOOC – Gold for Quality – Olive Poem
  • EVO IOOC – Gold for Quality & Finalist for PDO Olive Oils – Olive Poem
  • Mediterranean Taste Awards – Gold for Quality – Olive Poem
  • Olympia Health & Nutrition Awards – Gold – Olive Poem
  • New York IOOC – Silver for Quality – Olive Poem

Bläuel Greek Organic Products  

  • Biofach – Recommendation for Quality (Organic) – MANI Organic Greek EVOO
  • Kotinos – Silver for Quality – MANI Organic Greek EVOO
  • BIOL – Gold for Quality (Organic) – MANI Organic Greek EVOO
  • New York IOOC – Silver for Quality – MANI Organic Greek EVOO
  • Berlin GOOA – Silver for Quality – MANI Organic Greek EVOO
  • Berlin GOOA – Gold – MANI Organic Polyphenol Natives Olivenöl Extra
  • Berlin GOOA – Bronze for Quality – MANI Greek Gold Natives Olivenöl Extra
  • Olympia Health & Nutrition Awards – Gold – MANI Polyphenol Natives Olivenöl Extra
  • EVO IOOC – Gold for Quality – MANI Organic Greek EVOO
  • EVO IOOC – Silver for Quality – MANI Greek Gold Natives Olivenöl Extra
  • EVO IOOC – Best of Greece – MANI Organic Greek EVOO

The Greek Olive Estate

  • Berlin GOOA – Platinum – Drop of Life Organic
  • Healthy Diet Awards – Silver for Functional Products – Drop of Life Organic
  • Healthy Diet Awards – Bronze for Food Supplement for Adults – PhenOLIV Protect
  • Olympia Health & Nutrition Awards – Gold – Drop of Life Organic
  • Olympia Health & Nutrition Awards – Gold – Drop of Life Limited Reserve
  • Olympia Health & Nutrition Awards – Gold and Highest Polyphenol Content for Greece – PhenOLIV Organic

E-LA-WON

  • Berlin GOOA – Platinum – Super Premium Elawon
  • Olympia Health & Nutrition Awards – Gold – Super Premium Elawon
  • Olympia Health & Nutrition Awards – Gold – Premium Elawon

Think Greece  

  • Olympia Health & Nutrition Awards – Gold – Eleagnos
  • Aristoleo Awards – Double Gold – Eleagnos
  • London IOOC – Gold for Quality – Eleagnos
  • Olymp Awards – Gold for Quality – Eleagnos
  • Mediterranean Taste Awards – Bronze for Quality – Eleagnos

Holy Oil by Ioanna Martinou

  • Olympia Health & Nutrition Awards – Gold – Holy Oil
  • Aristoleo Awards – Double Gold – Holy Oil
  • London IOOC – Silver for Quality – Holy Oil
  • Olymp Awards – Silver for Quality – Holy Oil
  • Mediterranean Taste Awards – Bronze for Quality – Holy Oil

Therianos Family Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • Olympia Health & Nutrition Awards – Gold – Theta Organic
  • Aristoleo Awards – Double Gold – Theta Organic

Due to time and space limitations, this article focuses on the Greek olive oil companies that won a competition’s “best of” or highest award for their olive oil’s health benefits or for their organic EVOO, plus at least one more of the highest category of general awards for health benefits at a second competition (Gold, etc., depending on the competition). One article could not possibly mention all the extremely healthy, flavorful Greek extra virgin olive oils. For a longer (but still incomplete) list of Greek extra virgin olive oils with noteworthy health benefits, see also the World Olive Center for Health’s list of winners at the Olympia Health & Nutrition Awards. Other Greek Liquid Gold articles feature top award winning Greek extra virgin olive oils as well as top award winning Greek flavored olive oil condiments.

Thanks to The G-Team (HYPERELEON®), Olive Poem, Bläuel Greek Organic Products, E-LA-WON, and Dimitris Therianos for the photos used with this article. Marc Doradzillo took the photo of Fritz and Felix Bläuel inspecting olive trees with a producer.

All businesses, organizations, and competitions involved with Greek olive oil, the Mediterranean diet, and/or agrotourism or food tourism in Greece, as well as anyone else interested in supporting Greeks working in these sectors, are now invited to consider the advertising and sponsorship opportunities on the Greek Liquid Gold: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil website. The only wide-ranging English-language site featuring news and information from the Greek olive oil world, it has reached readers in more than 200 countries around the globe.

“Originally published on Greek Liquid Gold: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (greekliquidgold.com). See that site for recipes with olive oil, photos from Greece, and olive oil news and information.”

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinationsGreek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons License: CC-BY-SA Copyright: Petr Pakandl

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