The Olive Lab & Shop, with shelves full of olive oil bottles on the right, a counter in the center, steps in the back leading up to the lab, and a refrigerator on the left

Near the Panathenaic Stadium where the first modern Olympic Games took place in Athens, Greece, we find another “first” that builds on a central component of Greek culture and cuisine, olive oil. The Olive Lab & Shop is unique in featuring only olive oils certified with a European health claim, and testing them for healthy polyphenols right in the store.

The non-profit World Olive Center for Health (WOCH) opened this shop in June 2021 to sell their members’ especially healthy high phenolic extra virgin olive oils (EVOOs). Located inside the mall at 76 Imittou (or Ymittou) Street, the Olive Lab & Shop introduces consumers to EVOOs rich in polyphenols. Polyphenols are compounds such as oleocanthal and oleacein that are naturally produced when olive oil is made from olive fruits. Scientific studies have shown that olive oil phenols--which are not found in any other food--have many health benefits.

For example, they have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. As the shop’s website indicates, “experimental and clinical studies have shown that phenols contribute to the treatment of cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and cancer.” (To learn more about olive oil’s health benefits, also consult this page.)

According to European Union Regulation 432/2012, consumption of 20 grams of olive oil that includes at least 5 mg of phenols protects against the oxidation of blood lipids. Olive oils that meet these criteria by having at least 250 mg/kg total phenolic content are eligible for the EU health claim and can thus be considered “high phenolic.”

In the Olive Lab & Shop, an English-speaking employee will be glad to help customers choose from more than 100 different brands of olive oil that have been awarded for their high levels of beneficial polyphenols at the World Olive Center for Health’s Olympia Health and Nutrition Awards.

The EVOOs won prizes based on the amount of phenols they contain: EVOOs in the Gold category contain more than 1000 mg/kg of phenolic compounds, the Silver category indicates a phenol content of 500 to 999 mg/kg, and the Bronze category includes EVOOs with 250-499 mg/kg of phenols. As WOCH president Dr. Eleni Melliou explains, “the Bronze category oils have a milder taste than the Silvers, while the Gold category oils have the strongest taste.” So the appropriate category of EVOO can be recommended to fit a consumer’s preferences and needs.

“The Olive Lab & Shop guarantees the high quality” of its olive oils, Melliou ensures Greek Liquid Gold. The word “guarantees” takes on a new meaning at “the first store in the world where the consumer has the possibility of on-site chemical analysis of the olive oil of choice for its polyphenol content,” as its website describes it.

Before buying an olive oil, customers can have the phenolic content tested in the shop’s own lab. “We can open the bottle that the consumer chooses,” Melliou explains, “and perform the test in 20 minutes in front of the consumer’s eyes, at the very low cost of 10 euros. If the test reveals that the oil doesn’t meet the European Union health claim standard, then the consumer is not obliged to buy the bottle.”

Since colder temperatures can help preserve the phenolic compounds in olive oil for an even longer time period, some olive oil producers prefer to have their oils refrigerated. The Olive Lab & Shop has a refrigerator for this purpose.

Of course, health benefits are not the only reason to buy extra virgin olive oil: EVOOs also offer a variety of wonderful flavors. As its website indicates, the shop features “a multitude of olive oils … from every corner of Greece,” enabling customers to “discover the different Greek varieties and their special taste characteristics.”

The Olive Lab & Shop

76 Imittou (or Ymittou) Street
T.K. 11634 Pangrati
Athens, Greece

Regular opening hours

(Call the shop at +30 210 7525134 to confirm opening hours during Greek holiday periods.)

Monday: 10:00-17:20
Tuesday: 10:00-20:20
Wednesday: 10:00-17:20
Thursday: 10:00-20:20
Friday: 10:00-20:20
Saturday: 10:00-15:20

An e-shop also ships healthy EVOO all over the world.

Thanks to Eleni Melliou and the World Olive Center for Health for permission to use the photo that appears with this article.

All businesses, organizations, and competitions involved with Greek olive oil, the Mediterranean diet, and/or agrotourism or food tourism in Greece, as well as others interested in supporting Greeks working in these sectors, are invited to consider the advertising and sponsorship opportunities on the Greek Liquid Gold: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil website. The only wide-ranging English-language site focused on news and information from the Greek olive oil world, it has helped companies reach consumers in more than 215 countries around the globe.

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