Polyphenol power: how olives can benefit postmenopausal women

By Annabel Kartal-Allen | Published: 8-Apr-2024

Clinical studies have demonstrated the positive effects of Bonolive on bone and joint health, cholesterol levels and lipid balance

Menopause alters the functionality of the human body in many ways and negative symptoms such as hot flushes, bone deterioration and mood swings are all too common for a significant proportion of those women going through it. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the most advised treatment for menopausal symptoms, although many women are moving away from this option owing to the increased risk of breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers.1 

With a noticeable gap in the market for non-hormonal alternatives, BioActor – a Solabia company – set about developing an ingredient that could bolster the health of menopausal women in a variety of ways. From this, they created Bonolive, a proprietary olive polyphenol extract derived from the fresh leaves of Olea europaea. 

This novel dry extract has been clinically proven to enhance bone health and regeneration capabilities, mobility, blood lipid profiles and cholesterol levels in women aged 45 and older. Annabel Kartal-Allen spoke to Hans van der Saag, CEO of BioActor, to find out more.


Supporting women’s health

A driver behind BioActor’s initiative to develop Bonolive came from the realisation of an unmet need: “We are a strong believer in the necessity of developing women’s health ingredients. Right now, there’s a lack of products that safely and effectively target women of this demographic; we believe that there needs to be considerably more focus on developing this area of nutraceuticals. Women continue to be the most predominant consumer group in the supplement industry, so there’s a huge untapped market waiting to be served.” 

“Developers have traditionally tested their products on mixed populations with little interest placed on postmenopausal individuals. We wanted to address this unmet need head on and create a product that could benefit these women.”


We can see that Bonolive also has a positive impact on joint health ... by the clinical data we've gathered


Multifaceted approach to treatment

Bonolive can influence women’s health in a plethora of ways, according to Hans: “The benefits of this phytonutrient are multifaceted. We see them in terms of supporting bone health and formation, which is a considerable issue during and after menopause. Our standpoint, however, is that menopause is more than bone health and hot flushes; it affects several health areas.”

“Therefore, we were pleased to see additional benefits with respect to blood lipid concentrations. Typically, postmenopausal cholesterol levels will be unbalanced or at risk of becoming so. The ability of this ingredient to manage cholesterol levels would be highly useful for our target demographic.”

“We can see that Bonolive also has a positive impact on joint health — another factor that often deteriorates in the menopause — by the clinical data we’ve gathered.”

As well as the information derived from studies, BioActor has also conducted consumer research to determine the impacts of Bonolive: “Data from a recent consumer study in post-menopausal women – taking a commercially available supplement with integrated Bonolive – saw benefits in reducing menopause symptoms such as hot flushes, sleep disturbances and mood swings.”


For the women that don’t want to consume hormones, Bonolive offers another safe and efficacious option


A unique ingredient

Although there are a range of nutraceuticals available for postmenopausal women, van der Saag believes that Bonolive is set apart from the rest: “A standout feature of this product is the raw material it’s made from. This is the only olive-based ingredient on the market that’s clinically proven to give all these benefits. We are the first in the world to have an olive polyphenol product — backed by clinical research — that benefits postmenopausal women.”

"The data are also rather unique as you can observe benefits for several issues that menopausal women may face, including bone and joint health, cholesterol levels and hot flushes.” Another unique facet of this ingredient is that it’s oestrogen free. Almost all products targeted at menopausal women — in any stage — rely heavily on utilising hormones for their positive effects. For the women that don’t want to consume these hormones, Bonolive offers another safe and efficacious option, which is important.” 

“In this context, it’s interesting to note that Bonolive recently received FDA confirmation that the Bonolive extract is GRAS for use in a wide range of food products as well.”


Who is BioActor?

BioActor is a global company specialising in the research and development of active nutraceutical ingredients. The organisation currently has eight active ingredients in its portfolio, with more than 20 clinical studies backing their efficacy and safety.

All these ingredients are plant-based, clinically researched and produced in Europe. BioActor recently joined the Solabia Group, a French life sciences company,  and the hub of Solabia’s nutrition business will be established at the Maastricht Health Campus.


Hans van der Saag, CEO of BioActor

Hans van der Saag, CEO of BioActor


The studies

When van der Saag started the company almost 15 years ago, he began a research collaboration with a group of scientists from INRA in France on the benefits of olive polyphenols: “In early animal studies, the effects of olive polyphenols on bone metabolism were confirmed. From there, we took this information to the clinic, running a 12-month study in postmenopausal women to see the effects on both bone health and blood lipids.”

“This was the first clinical study in postmenopausal women using olive polyphenols and we saw very strong results. There was a 30% increase in osteocalcin, which is the structural protein the body uses as a scaffold for new bone.1 Osteocalcin has binding sites that attract and attach to calcium ions, allowing the formation of calcified tissue and thus bone fortification.”

“We additionally saw that lipid misbalance was positively restored in the postmenopausal women involved in the study.1 There was an increase in HDL (high density lipoproteins) and a decrease in LDL (low density lipoproteins) with the ratio significantly during the supplementation period.”

“Benefits were also observed in triglyceride levels, which were backed up by the results of a second study. Within this iteration, we looked at a population of postmenopausal women, as well as men older than 50 who were overweight. As a result of consuming olive polyphenols, we saw an improvement in the blood lipid profile of the participants."

"A third study to determine the efficacy of Bonolive endeavoured to prove the ingredient’s bioavailability in postmenopausal women: “We assessed two groups — young female students and postmenopausal women — to ensure the ingredient was able to reach the target tissues for our desired demographic.” 

Not only was the product being absorbed into the bloodstream of the older women, but the results were better than for the student cohort.3 "We don’t currently have an explanation for this, but it gives us the reassurance that our ingredient is efficacious and can be easily transported in the bloodstream to reach the target tissues.” States Hans.

In addition to a positive bioavailability profile, the study revealed Bonolive’s ability to reduce oxidative stress in participants.3


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“Further to this, in collaboration with Nestlé, we ran a large study on joint care, focusing on knee pain and mobility. Within this group, a significant proportion of participants were suffering from severe joint pain; yet the study showed significant improvement in partaker's pain scores.4 The study was both in men and women, but all of the women studied were postmenopausal or older than 55 years of age.


Continuing research: a future perspective

Although BioActor has found multiple benefits associated with its proprietary ingredient, the company wants to further enhance its know-how regarding the functionality and efficacy of Bonolive: “We are currently running another clinical study in postmenopausal women to assess a range of aspects; we want to prove that the benefits of our ingredient are multifaceted. We’re looking forward to seeing the outcome of this clinical study and, once that’s done, we want to put a focus on the effects that Bonolive has on skin and body composition.”



1 Filip, R., Possemiers, S., Heyerick, A., Pinheiro, I., Raszewski, G., Davicco, M. J., & Coxam, V. (2015). Twelve-month consumption of a polyphenol extract from olive (Olea europaea) in a double blind, randomized trial increases serum total osteocalcin levels and improves serum lipid profiles in postmenopausal women with osteopenia. The journal of nutrition, health & aging19, 77-86.

2 Stevens, Y., Winkens, B., Jonkers, D., & Masclee, A. (2021). The effect of olive leaf extract on cardiovascular health markers: a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. European Journal of Nutrition60, 2111-2120.

3 García-Villalba, R., Larrosa, M., Possemiers, S., Tomás-Barberán, F. A., & Espín, J. C. (2014). Bioavailability of phenolics from an oleuropein-rich olive (Olea europaea) leaf extract and its acute effect on plasma antioxidant status: Comparison between pre-and postmenopausal women. European journal of nutrition53, 1015-1027.

4 Horcajada, M. N., Beaumont, M., Sauvageot, N., Poquet, L., Saboundjian, M., Costes, B., ... & Henrotin, Y. (2022). An oleuropein-based dietary supplement may improve joint functional capacity in older people with high knee joint pain: Findings from a multicentre-RCT and post hoc analysis. Therapeutic advances in musculoskeletal disease14, 1759720X211070205.

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