Virgin olive oil and hypertension
Consumption of virgin olive oil is good for you, but why? Scientific evidence on this issue has been accumulating for a quarter century. Epidemiological, clinical, and animal studies support that the consumption of virgin olive oil, instead of other sources of dietary fats, has antihypertensive effects.
What contains does virgin olive oil contain that makes it so healthy? Virgin olive oil is an oily fruit whose composition includes large quantities of oleic acid (a monounsaturated fatty acid) and also a variety of compounds present in lower quantities, named minor constituents, such as hydrocarbons, phytosterols, triterpenic compounds, and phenolic compounds. Both oleic acid and these minor constituents confer unique bioactive properties to virgin olive oil.
How do its components protect from hypertension? They influence on factors associated with the pathophysiology of hypertension such as vascular contractibility and protect from heart and kidney cellular loss and functionality, leading to a reduction of blood pressure.
Is it a miraculous ingredient? No, it is just a food. Virgin olive oil helps in preventing and treating hypertension but its full power arises as part of the Mediterranean Diet in a global strategy for a healthy and long-lasting life.
Virgin olive oil and a Mediterranean diet fight heart disease
Everyone knows olive oil and a Mediterranean diet are associated with a lower risk for cardiovascular disease, but a new research report published in the July 2010 print issue of the FASEB Journal offers a surprising reason why: These foods change how genes associated with atherosclerosis function.
"Knowing which genes can be modulated by diet in a healthy way can help people select healthy diets," said Maria Isabel Covas, D.Pharm., Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Cardiovascular Risk and Nutrition Research Group at the Institut Municipal d'Investigacio Medica in Barcelona, Spain. "It is also a first step for future nutritional therapies with selected foods."
Scientists worked with three groups of healthy volunteers. The first group consumed a traditional Mediterranean diet with virgin olive oil rich in polyphenols. The second group consumed a traditional Mediterranean diet with an olive oil low in polyphenols. The third group followed their habitual diet. After three months, the first group had a down-regulation in the expression of atherosclerosis-related genes in their peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Additionally, the olive oil polyphenols made a significant impact on the expression of genetic changes influencing coronary heart disease. Results also showed that the consumption of virgin olive oil in conjunction with a Mediterranean diet can positively impact lipid and DNA oxidation, insulin resistance, inflammation, carcinogenesis, and tumor suppression.
"This study is ground breaking because it shows that olive oil and a Mediterranean diet affect our bodies in a far more significant way than previously believed," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal. "Not only does this research offer more support for encouraging people to change their eating habits, it is an important first step toward identifying drug targets that affect how our genes express themselves."
Olive oil in your diet may prevent a stroke
A new study suggests that consuming olive oil may help prevent a stroke in older people. The research is published in the June 15, 2011, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
"Our research suggests that a new set of dietary recommendations should be issued to prevent stroke in people 65 and older," said study author Cécilia Samieri, PhD, with the University of Bordeaux and the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in Bordeaux, France. "Stroke is so common in older people and olive oil would be an inexpensive and easy way to help prevent it."
For the study, researchers looked at the medical records of 7,625 people ages 65 and older from three cities in France: Bordeaux, Dijon and Montpellier. Participants had no history of stroke. Olive oil consumption was categorized as "no use," "moderate use" such as using olive oil in cooking or as dressing or with bread, and "intensive use," which included using olive oil for both cooking and as dressing or with bread. Samieri said the study participants mainly used extra virgin olive oil, as that is 98 percent of what is available in France.
After a little over five years, there were 148 strokes.
After considering diet, physical activity, body mass index and other risk factors for stroke, the study found that those who regularly used olive oil for both cooking and as dressing had a 41 percent lower risk of stroke compared to those who never used olive oil in their diet (1.5 percent in six years compared to 2.6 percent).
Olive oil has been associated with potentially protective effects against many cardiovascular risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity. In an accompanying editorial, Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD, of Columbia University and a member of the American Academy of Neurology noted that it is not clear which particular elements of olive oil could be protective, while the effects of olive oil could even be indirect by making other healthy foods tastier. He also cautioned that only future clinical trials can increase confidence in the findings and potentially lead to stroke prevention recommendations.