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Healthmoraiolo olive variety and polyphenols

moraiolo olive variety and polyphenols

Moraiolo is a variety of olive trees that is highly prized in the world of olive oil production. These olives are known for their intense and complex flavor and their high levels of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. Moraiolo olives are typically grown in the central regions of Italy, where they have been cultivated for centuries.

In this blog post, we will take a closer look at Moraiolo olives and oil, including their appearance, flavor, and health benefits. We will also discuss the process of making olive oil from Moraiolo olives and provide tips for tasting and pairing this delicious oil with food. 

historical and geographical context

The history of Moraiolo olives is closely tied to the history of olive oil production in Italy. In ancient times, olive oil was highly valued for its many uses, including food, medicine, beauty, and religious offerings. Over time, Italy became one of the world’s largest producers of olive oil, and Moraiolo olives emerged as one of the most important varieties in the country.

Types of Olives Cultivated in Umbria for Olive Oil Production and the Best Varieties

Umbria is a region in central Italy known for producing high-quality olive oil. There are several olive varieties cultivated in Umbria.

The most common ones include:

Moraiolo: This olive is native to Umbria and is known for producing a rich and complex olive oil with high polyphenols. It is the most widely planted olive variety in the region.

Frantoio: This is another common olive variety in Umbria, known for producing a fruity and aromatic oil with a slightly bitter aftertaste. It is often blended with other olive varieties to create a balanced oil.

Leccino: This olive is originally from Tuscany but is also commonly grown in Umbria. It produces a mild and delicate oil with a fruity aroma and a hint of sweetness.

San Felice: This is a newer variety of olives. It produces a high-quality oil with a balanced flavor profile.



The Moraiolo Olive Tree

discover moraiolo olive
moraiolo olive tree

Appearance and Characteristics of the Moraiolo Olive Tree

  • TREE The Moraiolo olive tree is a medium-sized tree with a round, dense crown and slender branches.
  • LEAVES The leaves of the tree are small, dark green, and elongated, with a lanceolate shape.
  • FRUIT The fruit of the Moraiolo olive tree is small to medium-sized, with a round shape and a distinctive pointed tip.
  • REGION Moraiolo olives are typically grown in the central regions of Italy, including Umbria, Tuscany, and Lazio.
  • CLIMATE These olives are well-adapted to the Mediterranean climate, which is characterized by hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters.
  • SOIL Moraiolo olive trees prefer well-drained soils and can tolerate a range of soil types, including sandy, loamy, and clay soils.

Unique Flavor and Aroma Characteristics of Moraiolo Olives

  • FLAVOR Moraiolo olives are known for their intense, fruity flavor and complex aroma.
  • OIL The oil produced from these olives is typically green in color and has a slightly bitter and pungent taste, with hints of artichoke, green apple, and almond.
  • AROMA The aroma of Moraiolo olive oil is also quite distinctive, with notes of grass, herbs, and tomato leaf. These unique flavor and aroma characteristics are the result of the high levels of polyphenols and other beneficial compounds found in Moraiolo olives.


Moraiolo Olive Oil Production

Making Olive Oil from Moraiolo Olives

The process of making olive oil from Moraiolo olives involves several steps, including:

  1. HARVESTING The olives are typically harvested by hand or using mechanical shakers and then sorted and cleaned to remove any leaves or twigs.
  2. MILLING The olives are crushed or pressed using a mill to extract the oil from the fruit.
  3. MALAXING The resulting paste is then malaxed or stirred to help break down the oil droplets and improve the yield of the oil.
  4. SEPARATION Finally, the oil is separated from the solids and water using a centrifuge or press.

Factors Affecting Quality and Flavor of Moraiolo Olive Oil

Several factors can affect the quality and flavor of Moraiolo olive oil, including the harvesting time, processing methods, and storage conditions. For example, harvesting the olives at the right time, when they are still green and have a high polyphenol content, can result in a more flavorful and antioxidant-rich oil. Similarly, gentle processing methods, such as cold pressing or centrifugation, can help preserve the oil’s delicate flavor and aroma compounds. Proper storage conditions, such as keeping the oil away from light and heat, can also help maintain its quality over time.



Health Benefits of Moraiolo Olive Oil


Moraiolo olive oil is rich in antioxidants, such as polyphenols, which have been linked to a range of health benefits. These compounds have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties and help protect against heart disease and neurodegenerative disorders. Moraiolo olive oil is also a good source of healthy monounsaturated fats, which can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Additionally, the oil contains other bioactive substances, such as vitamin E and squalene, which have been shown to have beneficial effects on skin health and aging. In terms of which is the best olive variety, it depends on personal taste and the intended use of the oil. Nevertheless, moraiolo olives are the best for producing high-quality oil with health benefits. 


Polyphenols and antioxidants can be found in some kinds of food, for this reason, called superfoods, such as green tea and olive oil. After decades of scientific evidence and research, we can affirm that Moraiolo is a great superfood. The exact level of polyphenol oil can vary depending on factors such as the olives’ ripeness and the extraction method. Still, this variety tends to have an exceptionally high concentration of these beneficial compounds.

Type of polyphenols


Moraiolo olives have been found to contain high levels of hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol, and oleocanthal, which are the most abundant and well-studied polyphenols in olives. These compounds are particularly beneficial for heart health, as they have been shown to reduce blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and protect against oxidative stress and inflammation. 




Hydroxytyrosol ANTIOXIDANT IN OLIVE OILHydroxytyrosol is a potent antioxidant and has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including protecting against oxidative stress and inflammation, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, and improving cognitive function. 



TYROSOL ANTIOXIDANT IN OLIVE OILTyrosol is also an antioxidant and has been linked to anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Both hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol are known for their bitter taste, a characteristic of high-quality extra-virgin olive oil made from Moraiolo olives.


oleocanthal and others

OLEOCANTHAL ANTIOXIDANT IN OLIVE OILOleocanthal has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties

Additionally, Moraiolo olives contain other polyphenols, such as Oleuropein, Verbascoside, and Luteolin, which have been linked to various health benefits, including anti-cancer and anti-diabetic effects, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and cardioprotective effects.



Tasting and Pairing of Moraiolo Olive Oil

Proper technique for tasting olive oil

When tasting olive oil, it’s essential to use a tasting glass specifically designed for this purpose, as it allows you to fully evaluate the oil’s color, aroma, and flavor. The glass should be tulip-shaped, with a slightly narrowed opening to capture and focus the aromas.

To taste the oil, warm it slightly by holding the glass in your hand and swirling it gently. Next, bring the glass to your nose and inhale deeply, taking note of the aroma. Then, take a small sip of the oil and let it coat your tongue and palate. Swirl the oil in your mouth, allowing it to reach all taste buds, and note the flavor characteristics. Finally, swallow the oil and note any lingering flavors or sensations.

Specific flavor and aroma characteristics of Moraiolo olive oil

sensory profile of moraiolo

Moraiolo olive oil is known for its intense and robust flavor, with notes of green grass, artichoke, and black pepper. It also has a distinctive bitterness and pungency, which is indicative of its high levels of polyphenols and antioxidants. The aroma of Moraiolo olive oil is also complex, with notes of fresh herbs, almond, and tomato leaves.

Pairing suggestions for Moraiolo olive oil

Moraiolo olive oil pairs well with a variety of foods, including grilled vegetables, pasta, roasted meats, and hearty soups. Its bold flavor and bitterness can stand up to strong flavors, such as garlic and onion, making it a great addition to dishes with these ingredients. It also pairs well with crusty bread and can be drizzled over salads for added depth of flavor. When pairing Moraiolo olive oil with food, it’s important to use it sparingly to avoid overpowering the other flavors.


Here are a few scientific papers that discuss the polyphenol content of Moraiolo olives: these papers provide evidence for the high levels of polyphenols, including hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol, found in Moraiolo olives and extra-virgin olive oil made from them.

  1. Servili, M., Sordini, B., Esposto, S., Urbani, S., Veneziani, G., Di Maio, I., & Selvaggini, R. (2016). Biological activities of phenolic compounds of extra virgin olive oil. Antioxidants, 5(4), 30. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox5040030
  2. Angerosa, F., Campestre, C., & Piro, G. (2005). A preliminary investigation on the bitter taste of olive oil: The involvement of secoiridoids. Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society, 82(4), 341-345. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11746-005-1085-1
  3. Farneti, B., Bongiorni, L., Cremonini, R., Paoletti, A., Ranieri, A. M., & Maserti, B. E. (2017). Phenolic compounds and antioxidant activity of Tuscan extra-virgin olive oils from different varieties. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 97(9), 2954-2962. https://doi.org/10.1002/jsfa.8105
  4. Selvaggini, R., Taticchi, A., Servili, M., Urbani, S., Veneziani, G., Esposto, S., & Di Maio, I. (2016). Polyphenol profile and antioxidant activity of extra-virgin olive oil from an Italian high-altitude growing area. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 96(1), 309-315. https://doi.org/10.1002/jsfa.7109


  • Moraiolo olives are a unique variety that is highly valued in the world of olive oil production.
  • They are known for their distinctive flavor and aroma and high concentration of antioxidants and other health-promoting compounds.
  • The ideal growing conditions for Moraiolo olives include a Mediterranean climate and well-draining soil, and they are typically cultivated in central Italy.
  • To make Moraiolo olive oil, the olives are carefully harvested and processed using various techniques and equipment.
  • Harvesting time and processing methods can significantly affect the quality and flavor of the final product.
  • When tasting Moraiolo olive oil, it is essential to use a tasting glass and follow a specific sequence of aroma and flavor evaluations to appreciate its unique qualities fully. Start by warming the oil in your hand and then inhaling deeply to evaluate its aroma. Next, take a small sip and let it coat your entire mouth, noting any flavors and sensations. Finally, swallow the oil and assess the lingering aftertaste.
  • Moraiolo olive oil pairs well with various foods, including grilled vegetables, pasta dishes, and roasted meats.
  • As for pairing, Moraiolo olive oil pairs well with grilled vegetables, pasta dishes, and roasted meats. It can also be used as a dipping oil for bread or as a finishing touch to salads and soups. Don’t hesitate to experiment with different tasting and pairing strategies to find your favorite combinations.
  • And remember, always choose high-quality, authentic Moraiolo olive oil to ensure the best possible experience!

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