The antioxidant activity and the phenolic and -tocopherol content of 10 Northern Italian mono- and multi-varietal extra virgin olive oils (EVOOs), after early and late olive harvests, was analyzed. A hierarchical cluster analysis was used to evaluate sample similarity. Secoiridoids (SIDs), lignans and flavonoids were the most abundant phenolic compounds identified. The organic Casaliva (among mono-cultivar) and the organic multi-varietal (among blended oils) EVOOs had the higher total phenol content both in early (263.13 and 326.19 mg/kg, respectively) and late harvest (241.88 and 292.34 mg/kg, respectively) conditions. In comparison to late harvest EVOOs, early harvest EVOOs, in particular the organic mono-cultivar Casaliva, showed both higher antioxidant capacity (up to 1285.97 Oxygen Radicals Absorbance Capacity/ORAC units), probably due to the higher SID fraction (54% vs. 40%), and higher -tocopherol content (up to 280.67 mg/kg). Overall, these results suggest that SIDs and -tocopherol mainly contribute to antioxidant properties of the studied EVOOs. In light of this, the authors conclude that early harvest, organic mono-cultivar Casaliva EVOO represents the most interesting candidate to explicate healthy effects ascribed to these functional constituents, particularly regarding oxidative stress-related pathologies.
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