`Phytochemicals in Olive Oil Help Prevent a Range of Diseases, Study Finds - Olive Oil Times

Phytochemicals in Olive Oil Help Prevent a Range of Diseases, Study Finds

By Ephantus Mukundi
May. 3, 2021 08:47 UTC

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.- Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, 

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.

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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.


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