`Olive Oil Metabolites Linked with Improved Cardiovascular Disease Outcomes - Olive Oil Times

Olive Oil Metabolites Linked with Improved Cardiovascular Disease Outcomes

By Paolo DeAndreis
Feb. 1, 2024 20:15 UTC

New research demon­strates a link between the metabo­lite pro­files of vir­gin olive oil and reduced risk of devel­op­ing car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease in Mediterranean pop­u­la­tions at high car­dio­vas­cu­lar risk.

The study, pub­lished in Cardiovascular Diabetology, also con­firmed metabo­lite pro­files of vir­gin olive oil are asso­ci­ated with a lower risk of devel­op­ing the dis­ease than refined olive oil metabo­lite pro­files.

The metabolomic pro­file we found for extra vir­gin olive oil was also inversely asso­ci­ated with the risk of con­tract­ing car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease in the future.- Marta Guasch-Ferré, pub­lic health researcher, University of Copenhagen

The analy­sis was part of the PREDIMED study, a land­mark clin­i­cal trial con­ducted in Spain that demon­strated the asso­ci­a­tion between fol­low­ing a Mediterranean diet rich in extra vir­gin olive oil and car­dio­vas­cu­lar health.

The study used data from about 2,000 par­tic­i­pants, all at high risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, who pro­vided dietary infor­ma­tion and blood sam­ples.

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The find­ings come from an inves­ti­ga­tion into the metabolomic pro­files asso­ci­ated with the reg­u­lar con­sump­tion of dif­fer­ent types of olive oil. Metabolomics is the study of small mol­e­cules, known as metabo­lites, within cells.

Plasma metabo­lites are found in blood; researchers iden­ti­fied a pat­tern in their expres­sion when olive oil is con­sumed.

Researchers employed machine learn­ing to ana­lyze the plasma metabo­lite pro­files of olive oil con­sump­tion. They then cor­re­lated these pro­files with the risk of type 2 dia­betes and car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease.

Plasma metabo­lites are the result of var­i­ous meta­bolic processes,” Marta Guasch-Ferré, co-author of the study and researcher at the University of Copenhagen’s pub­lic health depart­ment, told Olive Oil Times.

Thanks to new metabolomic tech­nolo­gies, we can iden­tify them just as in the past we iden­ti­fied bio­mark­ers such as cho­les­terol or triglyc­eride,” she said. Today, we can inves­ti­gate those mol­e­cules and have a clearer pic­ture of what is hap­pen­ing in the blood.”

Plasma metabo­lites can change depend­ing on fac­tors such as what we eat. And they can help us pre­dict the insur­gence of dis­eases way ahead of their man­i­fes­ta­tion, even years or many years before,” Guasch-Ferré added.

While metabo­lites in the human body exist and form in many dif­fer­ent states, exert­ing a range of dis­tinct func­tions, researchers focused on those that cor­re­lated with nutri­tion, responded to dietary intake and could play a role in spe­cific bio­log­i­cal processes.

We found some metabo­lites that were the same across the dif­fer­ent kinds of olive oil, and oth­ers which were dif­fer­ent and spe­cific for each grade of olive oil,” Guasch-Ferré said.

That is part of the nov­elty of this research. We iden­ti­fied what we call metabolomic sig­na­ture, a clus­ter of dif­fer­ent metabo­lites that include lipids, amino acids and oth­ers asso­ci­ated with dif­fer­ent ori­gins,” she added. The metabolomic pro­file we found for extra vir­gin olive oil was also inversely asso­ci­ated with the risk of con­tract­ing car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease in the future.”

Research from the PREDIMED study has already shown how extra vir­gin olive oil con­sump­tion has a healthy impact on car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease.

Adding the layer of new knowl­edge about the spe­cific plasma metabo­lites, we can bet­ter under­stand the cor­re­la­tion between extra vir­gin olive oil and the bio­log­i­cal processes it trig­gers. We can see those metabo­lites as a response to extra vir­gin olive oil intake,” Guasch-Ferré said.

Virgin olive oil con­sump­tion was found to lower car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease risk, but it did not sig­nif­i­cantly affect type 2 dia­betes risk. In con­trast, the pro­file asso­ci­ated with refined olive oil con­sump­tion was asso­ci­ated with an increased risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease.


While the study focused on a sam­ple of at-risk pop­u­la­tions, the researchers noted how the ben­e­fi­cial impact of vir­gin and extra vir­gin olive oils goes way beyond such a spe­cific sam­ple.

We all know how healthy extra vir­gin olive oil is for the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion,” Guasch-Ferré said. What is less known, and it is part of ongo­ing research, is that even in small quan­ti­ties, vir­gin olive oil con­sump­tion might carry sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits.”

In pop­u­la­tions who do not fol­low the Mediterranean diet or do not con­sume olive oil in the vol­umes typ­i­cally con­sumed in olive oil-pro­duc­ing coun­tries such as Spain or Italy, a healthy impact can still be detected,” she added.

For exam­ple, research pub­lished in 2020 in the United States sug­gested that con­sum­ing half a table­spoon of olive oil daily might pre­vent car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease among peo­ple not con­sid­ered at risk.

In PREDIMED, aver­age olive oil con­sump­tion was about 30 grams per day, while in the U.S. study, it did not exceed 10 grams,” Guasch-Ferré said. Still, the ben­e­fits were there, and we could see how con­sum­ing olive oil was bet­ter than, for instance, but­ter.”

From a pub­lic health per­spec­tive, there are sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits to qual­ity olive oil con­sump­tion for all pop­u­la­tion seg­ments,” she con­cluded.


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