Iraqi Studies Reveal Possible Health Benefits of Olive Leaves

We could be on the brink of accepting olive leaf extract as an alternative treatment for diabetes, as well as a natural antioxidant in food preservation.

Jun. 7, 2017
By Maja Dezulovic

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Two stud­ies from Iraq have been pub­lished relat­ing to the ben­e­fits of olive leaves, and the pos­si­ble uses of olive leaf extract. 

A Study of the Protective Properties of Iraqi Olive Leaves against Oxidation and Pathogenic Bacteria in Food Applications was pub­lished by the Department of Food Science at the College of Agriculture, University of Basrah. 

Ammar B. Altemimi explored the antiox­i­dant and antimi­cro­bial effects of olive leaves and their food applications.

Lipid oxi­da­tion is a major con­cern, which is why there is an ongo­ing search for antiox­i­dants that work against oxi­da­tion in fats and oils. Currently most coun­tries use syn­thetic antiox­i­dants, how­ever, they have come under scrutiny recently due to pos­si­ble tox­i­co­log­i­cal and car­cino­genic effects. This has encour­aged the search for organic antioxidants.

The study showed a sig­nif­i­cant vari­a­tion in the phe­no­lic con­tents of the sol­vents used, which were methanol, ethanol, diethyl ether, and hexa­nol. The sta­bil­ity of the olive leaf extrac­tion was also observed. Olive leaf extracts were applied to sheep meat slides to test the antiox­i­dant and antimi­cro­bial effects.

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The results revealed that an increase in stor­age tem­per­a­ture encour­ages the degra­da­tion of phe­no­lic com­pounds. Methanol extrac­tion was found to pro­duce the high­est num­ber of phe­no­lic com­pounds and antiox­i­dant activ­ity. The phe­no­lic com­pounds pro­duced reli­able and sig­nif­i­cant enough antiox­i­dant and antimi­cro­bial effects to encour­age their use in future stud­ies, and pos­si­ble appli­ca­tion in food preservation.

The other study, Do Olive Leaves (Olea europaea) have the Ability to Lower Glucose and Cholesterol Levels in Adult Mice? was pub­lished by the coun­try’s Ministry of Environment in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the College of Veterinary Medicine at Al-Muthanna University.

Zena Abdullah Khalaf and Ali Mosa Rashid Al-Yasari stud­ied the abil­ity of olive leaves (Olea europaea) in reduc­ing glu­cose and cho­les­terol lev­els in mice.

Diabetes is one of the lead­ing health prob­lems world­wide, which is why experts are con­tin­u­ally look­ing for new meth­ods to help treat the dis­ease. Alternatives may pave the way to devel­op­ing more cost-effec­tive med­i­cines with fewer side effects.

Adult mice were exposed to up to 16mg/kg body weight of olive leaf water extract for two weeks. Glucose and cho­les­terol lev­els were mea­sured. The results were com­pared to that of mice treated with Insulin, and a con­trol group of mice that were not treated.

The olive leaf extract also proved to have a non-toxic effect, which may help in fur­ther­ing stud­ies to human sub­jects. Although the exper­i­ment was done on rodents, the results imply that sim­i­lar results could be achieved in humans.

The stud­ies fur­ther sug­gest that there is a grow­ing inter­est in the appli­ca­tions of olive prod­ucts in the Middle East as well as glob­ally. We could be on the brink of accept­ing olive leaf extract as an alter­na­tive treat­ment for dia­betes, as well as a nat­ural antiox­i­dant in food preser­va­tion ensur­ing health­ier food products.

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