Ever since launching my own brand of high-phenolic extra virgin olive oil, I wanted to put together some frequently asked questions in an effort to better educate the consumer who might be considering purchasing some. Because this is a unique product and one that isn’t frequently available on the market, I think it’s important people understand what they’re buying, especially since many might confuse this particular kind of oil for traditional, extra virgin olive oil.
What is “Agourolado”?
Agourolado is a unique kind of extra virgin olive oil, known by its colloquial name “agoureleo” in Greece. In simple terms, it’s oil from unripe olives. It’s also known as “early harvest” olive oil since olives are not only harvested early in the season, but also earlier than their ripened state. In Crete (because Cretans always have a different word for things), this kind of oil is known as “agourolado.” Both “agoureleo” and “agourolado” come from the Greek word “agouro” or unripe.
The Ancient Greeks also produced early harvest olive oil and called it “omphakion.” They not only used it as an exquisite food product, but also as medicine. Hippocrates documented 60 different ailments that could be treated with oil from unripe olives– but more on that later. I’ve actually chosen the name “Agourolado” for my very first small batch of this unique oil as a tribute to the people of Crete, including my parents, both of whom were from this island.
What’s so special about this kind of olive oil?
Agoureleo is special because of its unique taste, but more so because of its nutritional value that has to do with the high concentration of micronutrients called polyphenols. Put in simple terms, these naturally-occurring compounds make this kind of olive oil a superfood. Science has revealed to us today what the ancient Greeks knew thousands of years ago. Hippocrates used high phenolic olive oil to treat more than 60 ailments.
Modern medical research has directly linked polyphenol intake (and specifically two of them named oleocanthal and oleacein) to better digestion and gut health, helping with weight management difficulties, mitigating diabetes, preventing neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol– even cancer prevention.
Here are several study links you might find interesting:
- Daily consumption of a high phenolic extra-virgin olive oil reduces oxidative DNA damage in postmenopausal women.
- Efficacy of Early Harvest Olive Oil in Cognition of Primary (PPMS) or Secondary (SPMS) Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Lesson from Nutrigenomics.
- A randomized double-blind clinical trial of Greek high phenolic early harvest extra virgin olive oil of Chalkidiki variety in mild Cognitive Impairment: The MICOIL study.
- Antioxidants in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Table Olives: Connections between Agriculture and Processing for Health Choices.
- Consuming High-Polyphenol EVOO Reduces Blood Pressure.
- Key Ingredient in Olive Oil Destroys Cancer Cells.
So this is like medicine?
Absolutely not. And you shouldn’t treat it like medicine. Studies should only offer guidance. But we do know as a scientific fact that polyphenols act as antioxidants, meaning they can neutralize harmful free radicals that would otherwise damage your cells and increase your risk of conditions like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Polyphenols are also known to reduce inflammation, which is thought to be the root cause of many chronic illnesses.
What makes an olive oil “certified high phenolic”?
The European Union has designated a specific minimum target amount of 250 mg/kg of oleocanthal and oleacein in olive oil in order for it to be labeled as “high phenolic.” My Agourolado was tested in a lab in Crete, with levels upwards of 5 times the minimum, making it extremely packed with these super nutrients. The certified lab results from the 2021 harvest of Agourolado is here.
Does Agourolado taste different from extra virgin olive oil?
Absolutely. This isn’t EVOO that you buy at the grocery store. In fact, this kind of olive oil rarely makes it to market because of the cost involved to produce it and the unique. Agourolado is VERY peppery, primarily because of the high concentration of polyphenols, which are prevalent in unripe olives. It actually burns the back of your throat. It is also green, as opposed to yellow like regular olive oil. This means it’s much purer and hasn’t been mixed with other oils.
So, since it tastes so peppery, what should I do with it?
For starters, you can drink one or two tablespoons a day, straight. I have been doing it for a few years now. Dr. Steven Gundry, the well-known doctor who has millions of followers (and incidentally sells his own high-phenolic olive oil at triple the price of mine) also suggests two tablespoons a day. (*Note: Dr. Gundry sells his for $49.95 for 250ml. My Agourolado is priced at $47.95 for TWICE the amount and mine is in a stainless steel bottle, which is recommended to protect the polyphenols. Gundry sells his oil in a glass bottle.)
“I like to just drink a “shot” of it each day, and I suggest you do the same,” Dr. Gundry says on his website, adding about the taste that “the peppery flavor isn’t for everyone, so I’ve put together a few other ways for you to enjoy this powerful, flavorful olive oil — and all it’s fantastic health benefits, too.” Gundry goes on to list numerous ways to enjoy this kind of olive oil, including:
Use it as a “finishing oil” on almost any foods: You know how even the simplest foods feel a little more “special” at a restaurant? That’s because they’re likely drizzled with a little bit of oil — it actually enhances the flavors in food. Accent sautéed greens, scrambled eggs, even that piece of grilled salmon— just make sure to drizzle it on your food after cooking.
Make a salad dressing with it: One great way to “tone down” the oil’s peppery flavor is to counter-balance it with high-quality balsamic vinegar.
Blend it into a smoothie: It sounds funny, but it’s great blended into a smoothie — especially a chocolate flavored smoothie. Believe it or not, chocolate and olive oil is a classic combination.
Use it in pesto: This classic Italian sauce is great tossed with pasta or used as a sauce on grilled meats, veggies, or even on top of a salad. To make it, combine a half cup of basil or parsley, ¼ cup of toasted pine nuts, ¼ cup of grated parmesan, a garlic clove, and about a ¼ cup of Agourolado in the food processor or blender. Then, store it in the fridge or freezer.
Why is “Agourolodo” more expensive than traditional olive oil?
Agourolado is more expensive because it takes twice the weight in olives to produce it. For a single 500ml bottle, it takes approximately 6 kilograms of olives (about 8,000 olives!). It takes half this amount, or about 3 kilograms, to make the same amount of traditional olive oil. Good, high phenolic olive oil can cost anywhere from $50 to even up to $100 for a 500ml bottle. In some cases, smaller bottles can cost anywhere between $50-$90. Dr. Steven Gundry is selling a Moroccan version for $49.95 for a 250ml bottle which equates to almost $100 for a half liter!
I have priced my Agourolado, available for purchase anywhere in the continental United States at $65.95 per 750ml bottle and $47.95 for a 500ml bottle. Agourolado is available exclusively from The Pappas Market here.
Is “Agourolado” a single source olive oil and why is that important?
Yes. Our batch comes from a single farm, owned and operated by Giorgos Poulakas in Varipetro, in the region of Hania on Crete. Single source olive oils are produced from olives located in one single farm or traceable source of origin. This means you don’t have a mix of olives from various locations and qualities. Single source extra virgin olive oils cut out middlemen who may reduce the pureness by adulterating it or mixing oils of lesser quality with fresher oil.
What variety of Olives are used to create Agourolado?
This unique olive oil was produced from unripe olives of the “Tsounati” variety. Tsounati (or “tsounates” in the plural) are a rare cultivar, or variety of olives found exclusively in Western Crete. Most tsounati trees grow and thrive in higher altitudes. Oil from these trees is scarce and costly to produce, given the fact that these trees only bear fruit every other year.
Why a stainless steel bottle?
Stainless steel scientifically proven to be the best material to preserve the organoleptic qualities of olive oil and slow down the natural dissipation of the phenolic compounds. Our bottle is modern, sophisticated, refined and minimal– but more importantly, we chose it because it’s made of the very best material needed to preserve and protect the very finest olive oil available on the market.
The bottles are made in Italy with a single die-cut stainless steel that’s the same material used to make the tanks that store olive oil before bottling. Stainless steel is more expensive than tin, glass and other typical bottling products but it protects the olive oil from light and oxidation and preserves the oil’s nutritional properties better than any other material.
I also chose stainless steel because it is 100% recyclable, and it can be reused endlessly without losing any of its original properties. The life cycle of stainless steel is potentially endless, it is a permanent resource, essential for the development of a sustainable world.