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Tuesday, 04 June 2013 00:00

Scientists investigate the maturation process of the olive to know the moment when is healthier

Juan Peragón, at his lab Juan Peragón, at his lab G.C. / G.P

A ceiA3 research team studies biochemistry of the olive and its bioactive components in order to know the moment at which it has the greatest concentration of beneficial compounds.

The Agrifood Campus of International Excellence ceiA3 studies the bioactive components present in olives oil and some other products derived from the olive tree through the research group Drugs, environmental toxins and cellular metabolism. The goal is to know when the concentration of these components is higher in the olive tree and in the olive, and also to study at a cellular level the healthy properties of these compounds.

The head and researcher of the group and at the University of Jaén, Juan Peragón Sanchez, said that "we study the olive phenolic compounds in olive trees which main features are their antioxidant properties and triterpene compounds, which are in olives and olive leaves, standing out for their health beneficial features". The scientist added that they are investigating the effect of these elements in the body, which currently focus on knowing when the concentration of these compounds is higher in the olive.

To achieve that, they analyze the maturation process of the olives in order to tell when the levels of these compounds are higher. "Generally the highest concentration of phenolic compounds occurs when the olives are still green, during the months of September and October. “This fact raises the will of the farmers in advancing the olive harvest to gain more from these properties”, says the researcher. Yet some of the phenolic compounds are what add the bitter taste so characteristic of olive oil and the stability needed to avoid oxidation. "That is why, when we decide the time of collection, we must find a balance between all these factors," he concludes.

At the same time, the ceiA3 team from the University of Jaén investigates, at laboratory level, how these compounds influence on health, its antioxidant and anti-aging or anti-tumor effects among others. Juan Peragón explains that they are particularly interested in a deeper understanding of the cellular processes in which these compounds have effect. They work with isolated compuonds as maslinic acid (triterpene) or tyrosol (phenolic) that connect with the whole organisms or cell lines to examine their reaction. In this task, these researchers work in collaboration with researchers from the University of Granada and another scientific group of the UJA.

Una anterior línea de investigación del grupo estudió también el efecto del ácido maslínico (compuesto triterpénico) en los peces. Durante poco más de 200 días este compuesto se incluyó como aditivo en la dieta de truchas y doradas. En ambas especies se produjo un crecimiento mucho mayor del habitual. El investigador explica este considerable aumento en el peso y el tamaño de los peces a partir de una estimulación de los procedimientos de síntesis celular y un mayor recambio proteico, ambos generados por la ingesta de ácido maslínico. Estas investigaciones derivaron en la creación de la empresa Biomaslinic en Granada.

An earlier line of research of the group also studied the effect of maslinic acid (triterpene compound) in fish. For a little more than 200 days this compound was included as an additive in the diet of trout and golden. In both species there was a much higher growth than usual. The researcher explains this significant increase in the weight and size of the fish from a stimulation of cellular synthesis procedures and increased protein turnover, both generated by maslinic acid intake. These investigations led to the creation of the company Biomaslinic in Granada.

"Our aim is to continue these studies and a deeper understanding of the effects of each of the compounds," says John Peragón Sanchez. "The idea is that all this knowledge helps to add value to products derived from the olive tree" ends.

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