Two studies from Iraq have been published relating to the benefits of olive leaves, and the possible uses of olive leaf extract.

A Study of the Protective Properties of Iraqi Olive Leaves against Oxidation and Pathogenic Bacteria in Food Applications was published by the Department of Food Science at the College of Agriculture, University of Basrah.

Ammar B. Altemimi explored the antioxidant and antimicrobial effects of olive leaves and their food applications.

Lipid oxidation is a major concern, which is why there is an ongoing search for antioxidants that work against oxidation in fats and oils. Currently most countries use synthetic antioxidants, however, they have come under scrutiny recently due to possible toxicological and carcinogenic effects. This has encouraged the search for organic antioxidants.

The study showed a significant variation in the phenolic contents of the solvents used, which were methanol, ethanol, diethyl ether, and hexanol. The stability of the olive leaf extraction was also observed. Olive leaf extracts were applied to sheep meat slides to test the antioxidant and antimicrobial effects.

The results revealed that an increase in storage temperature encourages the degradation of phenolic compounds. Methanol extraction was found to produce the highest number of phenolic compounds and antioxidant activity. The phenolic compounds produced reliable and significant enough antioxidant and antimicrobial effects to encourage their use in future studies, and possible application in food preservation.

The other study, Do Olive Leaves (Olea europaea) have the Ability to Lower Glucose and Cholesterol Levels in Adult Mice? was published by the country’s Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the College of Veterinary Medicine at Al-Muthanna University.

Zena Abdullah Khalaf and Ali Mosa Rashid Al-Yasari studied the ability of olive leaves (Olea europaea) in reducing glucose and cholesterol levels in mice.

Diabetes is one of the leading health problems worldwide, which is why experts are continually looking for new methods to help treat the disease. Alternatives may pave the way to developing more cost-effective medicines with fewer side effects.

Adult mice were exposed to up to 16mg/kg body weight of olive leaf water extract for two weeks. Glucose and cholesterol levels were measured. The results were compared to that of mice treated with Insulin, and a control group of mice that were not treated.

The olive leaf extract also proved to have a non-toxic effect, which may help in furthering studies to human subjects. Although the experiment was done on rodents, the results imply that similar results could be achieved in humans.

The studies further suggest that there is a growing interest in the applications of olive products in the Middle East as well as globally. We could be on the brink of accepting olive leaf extract as an alternative treatment for diabetes, as well as a natural antioxidant in food preservation ensuring healthier food products.

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