`Olive Oil May Help Protect Skin from the Aging Effects of the Sun

Health

Olive Oil May Help Protect Skin from the Aging Effects of the Sun

Oct. 25, 2012
Naomi Tupper

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New French research sug­gests that a high intake of olive oil and other monoun­sat­u­rated fats may pro­tect the skin against sun-related aging.

The study, pub­lished in the Pub­lic Library of Sci­ence, was designed to build on the hypoth­e­sis that monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids reduce oxida­tive dam­age in the body, in addi­tion to decreas­ing insulin resis­tance and inflam­ma­tion, all of which may reduce aging of the skin due to sun dam­age or photo-aging’.

The cross-sec­tional study included 1,264 women and 1,655 men, all between 45 and 60 years old. Dietary intake records where com­pleted by par­tic­i­pants at least ten times in the first two-and-a-half years of fol­low up, allow­ing intake of monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids from olive oil and other sources to be esti­mated. Skin photo-aging was then graded by pho­tographs.

The results obtained in the study sug­gested that a lower risk of severe photo-aging was asso­ci­ated with higher intakes of monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids from olive oil, as well as from other veg­etable oils. How­ever, of the most com­monly con­sumed veg­eta­bles oils, olive, peanut and sun­flower, olive oil intake showed the great­est asso­ci­a­tion with reduced aging, and was the only asso­ci­a­tion that was sta­tis­ti­cally sig­nif­i­cant.

Although monoun­sat­u­rated fats were asso­ci­ated with reduced risk of skin aging over­all in both sexes, there was no asso­ci­a­tion between the monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids found in meat, dairy or processed meats. The rea­son for this is not clear, as dairy prod­ucts pro­vide sim­i­lar amounts of monoun­sat­u­rated fats as olive oil. How­ever, the authors of the study hypoth­e­sized that this could be due to the high level of unhealthy sat­u­rated fats also present in dairy foods, or pos­si­bly the polyphe­nols in olive oil, which are thought to pro­tect against cell dam­age.

The authors con­cluded that the results sup­ported the ben­e­fi­cial effect of olive oil on the aging of the skin, although admit that as par­tic­i­pants who con­sumed more olive oil also had health­ier over­all diets, this may also play a part in the pro­tec­tive effect. Although the results seem to indi­cate yet another health ben­e­fit of a diet rich in olive oil, fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion is needed in this area to deter­mine the mech­a­nism by which monoun­sat­u­rated fats or other com­pounds in olive oil pro­tect against skin aging.

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A diet high in olive oil is widely regarded to be ben­e­fi­cial for health, with research sug­gest­ing it pro­vides pro­tec­tion against a wide range of con­di­tions includ­ing heart dis­ease, stroke, arthri­tis and even some forms of can­cer. Although fur­ther research is needed to deter­mine the exact effect a diet rich in monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids has on the aging process of the skin, there seems lit­tle doubt that olive oil is one of the most ben­e­fi­cial fat sources for our health.



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