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Nature-identical Hydroxytyrosol

WACKER Media Kit
Food Ingredients Asia, September 2017

Fresh fish, lots of fruits and vegetables and, most importantly, olive oil: What makes this a healthy diet is that these foods contain plant second-ary metabolites, a category of substances that includes hydroxytyrosol. This antioxidant is much sought after as an active agent, and WACKER can now produce a nature-identical version of it via a new, patented syn-thesis route. The process improves purity with no un-wanted byprod-ucts, while keeping the content of the active agent at a defined level – opening up entirely new possibilities for manufacturers of nutritional supplements and cosmetics.
That eating an abundance of fruits and vegetables keeps mind and body in good shape is fairly well known, as is the promise of longevity that the Medi-terranean diet offers. A large number of studies have put Southern European eating habits under the microscope and investigated physical health within these populations. What they have concluded is that the Mediterranean diet has a positive effect on our bodies – an effect due to the compounds these foods contain. Nutrition experts have been paying particularly close attention to the plant secondary metabolites in bell peppers, olives and the like, owing to the health benefits of these chemicals. Examples of what these “natural wonders” are supposed to do include protecting against cardiovascular dis-eases, diabetes and Alzheimer’s, strengthening immune system response, and inhibiting inflammatory processes.

Hydroxytyrosol: A Powerful Antioxidant
Plant secondary metabolites – polyphenols, to be precise – are aromatic com-pounds present as bioactive substances in plants, where they produce color or flavor, or act as an antioxidant. Antioxidants are among the most popular die-tary supplements, due to their ability to scavenge free radicals and reduce oxidative stress. TechNavio experts, for instance, forecast the global antioxi-dants market to grow at a CAGR of 4.71 percent (2013-2018), while Ceresana Research expects the world market for antioxidants to reach a volume of ca. 7.4 billion US-dollars by 2020.

Its unusually powerful antioxidant properties is what make hydroxytyrosol such an interesting plant secondary metabolite for use in foods and dietary supple-ments. The compound is exceptionally good at capturing free radicals, which can damage our cells. At 45,000 micromol Trolox equivalents per gram, the oxygen radical absorbance capacity of hydroxytyrosol is nearly 30 times that of vitamin C and over twice as high as that of coenzyme Q10. That means that hydroxytyrosol can protect human cells and blood lipids from oxidative stress – a key factor influencing the development of cardiovascular diseases.

Also attributed to this active substance is the ability to strengthen immune sys-tem response, lower blood pressure, inhibit inflammatory processes, and exert a positive effect on the bones and joints – interesting properties that could be put to use in nutritional supplements or applications in sports nutrition, such as power bars or functional beverages.

Drawbacks in the Production Process

Although there are already a few suppliers offering hydroxytyrosol as an in-gredient in dietary supplements, one drawback, was the way it was produced. In nature, hydroxytyrosol is found in olives and olive leaves, and the conven-tional way to obtain the active agent is via extraction. But its extraction is com-plex and both labor- and cost-intensive: The traditional process involves many steps such as washing, smashing, pressing, centrifuging and drying of the olives or olive leaves. Plus, it produces a varying content of active ingredient in the end product, as the olive extract is a blend of a wide range of polyphe-nols rather than pure hydroxytyrosol – often, the content of active ingredient is less than 20 percent.

A further disadvantage for food manufacturers is that the extract-derived prod-uct comes as a brownish, moldy-smelling powder. Moreover, it’s possible that the extract contains unknown substances and impurities. And finally, the sup-ply is quite unreliable, as olive harvests are subject to weather and climate conditions and seasonal fluctuations, which affects more than just the compo-sition of the product ingredients – it also has an impact on the price of these valuable extracts.

For all these reasons, the use of hydroxytyrosol in food solutions was, until recently, limited. Yet, as the active agent offers many promising benefits, de-mand for hydroxytyrosol is on the rise, and the industry is eager to find a method that could supply the market with this coveted active in large enough amounts and at high levels of purity.

The Solution: A Fully Synthesized Product

The German-based WACKER Group started research to fully synthesize this compound – and successfully developed a novel, simplified production pro-cess involving fewer steps. The new product features a markedly higher purity with a defined, high and consistent amount of active ingredient. The controlled and patented production process not only offers high quality, as the product complies with HACCP regulations. It also ensures that the nature-identical hydroxytyrosol does not contain any unwanted byproducts, impurities or con-taminants. The extract comes as white, odorless powder.
Thanks to the novel patented, multistage synthesis method, a cost-effective process for manufacturing a highly pure form of the active is now available. The nature-identical hydroxytyrosol meets a precise set of specifications, and the quality is consistent and exceptionally high.

The patented synthesize route further ensures supply security independent of weather or climate. Another advantage is that the route is based on commer-cially available raw materials and practical process conditions, ensuring that the compound can be produced on a large scale.


The controlled production process not only offers supply security, but also en-sures that WACKER’s hydroxytyrosol – marketed under the name HTEs-sence® – does not contain any unwanted byproducts or contaminants. Addi-tionally, the new synthesis route means a cost-effective, high-quality alterna-tive for manufacturers of functional foods products. The active ingredient is highly concentrated and available as an odorless, water-soluble powder and liquid, making it suitable for use in functional foods and dietary supplements, such as tablets, capsules, energy bars and functional beverages.

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