Phytochemicals in olive oil hold the promise of protecting people against noncommunicable diseases, including diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis, as well as Covid-19, according to a review study published in Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology.
These observations are based on the levels of bioactive compounds, such as oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, oleanolic acid, phytosterols and oleocanthal, contained in olive oil. These compounds have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and cardio-protective capabilities.
Olive oil’s constituents are having potent anti-inflammatory activities and thus restrict the progression of various inflammation-linked diseases ranging from arthritis to cancer.
Bioactive compounds are naturally occurring phytochemicals mostly from foods such as fruits, vegetables, oils, nuts, seeds and whole grains. These extra-nutritional components are constantly studied for their many health benefits, including their ability to promote longevity.
Olive oil is the primary source of fat in the Mediterranean diet. The oil is known to stimulate the immune system and protect against acute and chronic inflammation due to its anti-oxidative properties.See Also: Health News
Oleocanthal, one of the key components of the oil, works similarly to popular anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen. It is also known to target and destroy human cancer cells without harming non-cancerous cells.
Hydroxytyrosol, a potent polyphenol occurring naturally in olive oil, is popular for scavenging free radicals in the body. Hydroxytyrosol’s ability to cross the blood-brain barrier allows it to counteract free radicals in the nervous system.
Apart from its anti-oxidative properties, in vitro studies show that hydroxytyrosol has antimicrobial capabilities, making it highly effective against respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. The compound is also known to have anti-cancer, antithrombotic, and retino-protective properties.
Oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol, the two primary polyphenols in olive oil, are responsible for its robust flavor. They also have antiviral properties and are highly effective in fighting rotavirus, herpes mononucleosis, para-influenza, HIV and Covid-19.
Phytosterols, also known as plant sterols, are similar to cholesterol in the human body. Sources of phytosterols include olive oil, fruits, whole grains and vegetables. When consumed in food, phytosterols compete with cholesterol for absorption in the body, which helps in lowering harmful cholesterol levels in the blood.
Ultimately, while olive oil is excellent for general wellbeing, it is important to note that it should be consumed in moderation as too much can lead to obesity.
While olive oil and its beneficial compounds have been studied extensively, there are still many gaps regarding how its bioactive compounds protect against various diseases and more research is required to help explain its mechanism of action.