Potential Mechanism for the Cardioprotective Effect of Extra Virgin Olive Oil Unraveled

Italian researchers demonstrated that extra virgin olive oil down-regulated NOX2 activity, pointing to this enzymatic pathway as a mechanism accounting for its antioxidant effects.

Jul. 27, 2016
By Negar Jamshidi

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In a series of recent clin­i­cal stud­ies approved by the Sapienza University of Rome ethics com­mit­tee, an Italian research group pro­vided pre­lim­i­nary evi­dence on the short-term ben­e­fi­cial effect of extra vir­gin olive oil (EVOO), the hall­mark of the Mediterranean diet, on post­pran­dial glycemic and lipid pro­file in healthy and pre-dia­betic adults. In par­al­lel, this group dis­cov­ered incretin reg­u­la­tion as a plau­si­ble under­ly­ing mech­a­nism for EVOO antiox­i­dant and car­dio­pro­tec­tive effects.

Despite robust clin­i­cal evi­dence asso­ci­at­ing the Mediterranean diet, espe­cially its key com­po­nent extra vir­gin olive oil (EVOO), with a lower risk of vas­cu­lar dis­ease, until now there has been no clear indi­ca­tion how it can exert its vas­cu­lar pro­tec­tive effects. Furthermore, post­pran­dial glycemia has been linked to higher preva­lence of car­dio­vas­cu­lar out­comes in the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion.
See Also:Olive Oil Health Benefits
In the first series of stud­ies pub­lished in Atherosclerosis, the Italian group demon­strated not only the pro­tec­tive effect of EVOO on a num­ber of oxida­tive stress mark­ers,” but also showed for the first time that extra vir­gin olive oil down-reg­u­lated NOX2 activ­ity, point­ing to this enzy­matic path­way as a mech­a­nism account­ing for the antiox­i­dant activ­ity of extra vir­gin olive oil.”

The authors pointed out the pos­si­bil­ity that EVOO may exert its effect by other enzy­matic path­ways in the con­trol of post­pran­dial oxida­tive stress.

Last year, the research group took a step fur­ther and demon­strated in healthy adult vol­un­teers that a meal with added EVOO is asso­ci­ated with reduced post­pran­dial oxida­tive stress and improved post­pran­dial glycemia via incretin reg­u­la­tory mech­a­nism.

Incretin hor­mones such as Glucagon-like peptide‑1 (GLP1) and glu­cose-depen­dent insulinotropic pep­tide (GIP) are known to induce insulin secre­tion and sig­nif­i­cantly influ­ence post­pran­dial glycemic con­trol. These incretins are rapidly deac­ti­vated by dipep­tidyl-pep­ti­dase‑4 (DPP‑4) ubiq­ui­tous enzyme thus low­er­ing insulin secre­tion.


The find­ings of the lat­est research pub­lished in Clinical Nutrition fur­ther revealed that the addi­tion of small amount of EVOO (10g) to a meal enhanced post­pran­dial glycemic and lipid pro­file this time in pre-dia­betic patients. Compared to con­trol, meals con­tain­ing EVOO resulted in an almost 20 per­cent decrease in post­pran­dial blood glu­cose and 40 per­cent increase in insulin pro­duc­tion.

Similar to their pre­vi­ous find­ings, the evi­dence sup­ported incretin hor­mone involve­ment specif­i­cally GLP1 in the reg­u­la­tion of post­pran­dial glu­cose. The in vitro stud­ies demon­strated EVOO resulted in acti­va­tion of both incretin hor­mones with con­comi­tant inhi­bi­tion of DPP‑4 activ­ity.

The authors con­cluded that inclu­sion of EVOO in meals improves post­pran­dial glu­cose and lipid pro­file in pre-dia­betic patients reduc­ing dam­ag­ing effects of high sugar and cho­les­terol on the vas­cu­lar sys­tem. They also rec­og­nize that fur­ther research in this impaired glu­cose metab­o­lism group is war­ranted to eval­u­ate long-term effects of EVOO sup­ple­men­ta­tion.

The mes­sage from these stud­ies rein­forces the notion that pre­ven­tion against a host of chronic ail­ments is as sim­ple as the addi­tion of a table­spoon of EVOO to meals on a daily basis.

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