New Research Links Olive Oil Consumption and Reduced Autoimmune Occurrence

Researchers found that olive oil consumption promotes healthy gut microbiota and hinders the development of gut pathogens that impair immune function.
By Brandi Muilenburg
Feb. 10, 2023 00:10 UTC

Researchers have found a pos­i­tive cor­re­la­tion between fol­low­ing the Mediterranean diet and decreased preva­lence of autoim­mune dis­eases.

One such find­ing is the rela­tion­ship between phe­no­lic com­pounds found in olive oil and the sup­port­ing func­tion of immune cells.

A new study pub­lished in Frontiers in Immunology found that olive oil has anti-micro­bial prop­er­ties that work against gut pathogens, pre­vent­ing col­o­niza­tion and allow­ing for the pro­lif­er­a­tion of immune func­tion.

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The dietary omega‑3 poly-unsat­u­rated fatty acids in olive oil sup­press inflam­ma­tion and pro­mote ben­e­fi­cial gut micro­biota.

The study fur­ther explained that omega‑3 poly-unsat­u­rated fatty acids decrease the pres­ence of pro-inflam­ma­tory bac­te­ria lead­ing to a reduc­tion in an autoim­mune response.

The preva­lence of autoim­mune dis­ease has increased annu­ally since the 1960s. There are now more than 100 named autoim­mune con­di­tions.

Autoimmune dis­ease is caused by an over­ac­tive immune sys­tem that mis­tak­enly attacks healthy cells in the body.

The increase in autoim­mu­nity has been linked to a low-qual­ity diet, a seden­tary lifestyle and an imbal­anced gut micro­biome. A diet rich in processed food and fast food are trig­ger­ing fac­tors for autoim­mune dis­ease.

Researchers are now focused on includ­ing meta­bolic path­ways, as most autoim­mune cases are
paired with meta­bolic syn­drome.

Metabolic syn­drome is the name of a group of con­di­tions, namely dia­betes, obe­sity, and heart dis­ease. The com­mon­al­ity between autoim­mune dis­ease and meta­bolic syn­drome is inflam­ma­tion caused by immune cells.

A sep­a­rate study pub­lished in Frontiers in Immunology focused on the con­sump­tion of polyphe­nols, includ­ing those found in extra vir­gin olive oil, and its anti-inflam­ma­tory effects.


Polyphenols are nat­ural com­pounds that are present in olive oil. They belong to a class of antiox­i­dants that have been shown to have var­i­ous health ben­e­fits. Some of the most abun­dant polyphe­nols in olive oil include hydrox­y­ty­rosol, tyrosol, oleu­ropein, and ligstro­side. These polyphe­nols have been shown to have anti-inflam­ma­tory, anti-oxi­dant, and anti-viral prop­er­ties. They have also been linked to lower risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, cer­tain can­cers, and other chronic health con­di­tions. The quan­tity and type of polyphe­nols in olive oil can vary depend­ing on fac­tors such as the vari­ety of olives used, the method of extrac­tion, and the con­di­tions under which the olives were grown. Olive oil labeled as extra vir­gin” is gen­er­ally con­sid­ered to have a higher con­cen­tra­tion of polyphe­nols than lower-grades.

Some ben­e­fits include reduc­ing body weight, waist cir­cum­fer­ence, sys­tolic blood pres­sure and insulin resis­tance.

The ben­e­fits indi­cate an abil­ity to reduce meta­bolic syn­drome by reduc­ing the con­trib­u­tors. The ben­e­fits would also include those that are linked to autoim­mune dis­eases.

Extra vir­gin olive oil con­sump­tion acti­vates mul­ti­ple meta­bolic path­ways through its polyphe­nols and phe­no­lic com­pounds, induc­ing immune pro­tec­tion.

Research has indi­cated that con­sum­ing olive oil daily and fol­low­ing a Mediterranean-style diet can com­bat autoim­mune con­di­tions and meta­bolic syn­drome together.

It is not yet clear if the daily con­sump­tion of olive oil can reverse exist­ing autoim­mu­nity. Still, it has been proven to reduce inflam­ma­tion, allow­ing for a reduc­tion of autoim­mune symp­toms.


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