US-based Usana Health Sciences has been granted a US patent covering the extraction of antioxidant-rich compositions from olives and the solid by-products of olive oil production.
The patent was awarded to Usana scientists John Cuomo and Alexander Rabovsky, who then assigned the patents to Usana.
"We have long known that valuable antioxidant compounds have been left behind in the olive oil production process," said Cuomo, who is director of new product development at the nutritional product manufacturer, "but previous extraction processes have been ineffective and expensive. These new methods allow for efficient extraction of these extremely potent compounds, which is an important step forward in Usana's efforts to obtain new and better sources of natural antioxidants."
The Mediterranean diet, rich in fresh vegetables and fruits and relatively low in animal foods, has long been considered among the healthiest diets in the world. The high level of olive oil consumption that is an important part of the Mediterranean diet has been associated with a variety of health benefits, including a lower incidence of heart disease and breast cancer.
Much of the benefit of olive oil consumption has been attributed to the presence of natural antioxidant compounds, including various polyphenolic compounds. These compounds have demonstrated a wide range of in vitro biological activity, including the inhibition of platelet aggregation, inhibition of LDL oxidation, reduction of chronic inflammation and vascular injury, and antimicrobial and antifungal activity.
Timothy Wood, vice president of research and development at Usana, said: "The olive extract resulting from this process is a unique combination of phytochemicals with great potential value for enhancing the antioxidant activity of products such as nutritional supplements, cosmetics, food products, topical antioxidant compositions, and oils or stabilising compounds.
"These compounds are characterised as polyphenolic antioxidants and are among the most active antioxidants known, offering enhanced protection from our toxic environment. These patents for nutrient production methods, which are quite rare, confirm Usana's technology leadership, particularly in the development of antioxidant products."
Myron Wentz., Usana founder and chairman, commented:"This achievement will allow Usana to develop new and exclusive, high-quality antioxidant formulations at lower costs than our competition. Our associates will have a distinct competitive advantage when it comes to distributing antioxidant products."