All the varieties of Tunisian olive oil are characterised by a high concentration of "polyphenol," which can be 10 times higher than that of Spanish and Italian olive oils, a Tunisian-Japanese study revealed.
This study, conducted as part of a Tunisian-Japanese co-operation project, SATRAPES on the "Valorisation of Biol-Resources in Arid and Semi-Arid Land," shows that polyphenol that is present in all the varieties of Tunisian olive oil, particularly that of the North, has certain health benefits.
This is given its role as a natural antioxidant and its ability to prevent cancer, treat infections and cardiovascular and neurological diseases, and assist in cell regeneration, the Tunis Afrique Presse reported.
Karim Chabir, Head of the Co-operation Programme at the Japan International Cooperation Agency, JICA, pointed out that Tunisian olive oil is no longer just a nutrient. It has become a food product with medicinal values given its richness in antioxidants and anti-allergens.
In addition, polyphenol is used as a food additive in food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.
The "Valorisation of Biol-Resources in Arid and Semi-Arid Land," Project, which is due to last till 2021, with total credits worth 7.830 million dinars granted by JICA, seeks to create innovative products, based on the findings of studies conducted by the Japanese and Tunisian research teams.
The studies were conducted by a team from the Japanese University of Tsukuba with the assistance of the Centre of Biotechnology of Sfax, the Centre of Biotechnology of Borj Cedria, the Institute of Arid Zones, the University of Sousse, the Sfax National Engineers Institute and the Tunis National Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology.
JICA currently endeavours to provide the necessary conditions to launch a Tunisian label of olive oil in Japan.