A new Spanish study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry shows that olive oil consumption may change the way genes function, reducing cardiovascular risk.
It is known that oleic acid, a fatty acid present in olive oil, and polyphenols may be able to raise high density cholesterol (HDL) also known as the “good cholesterol,” because it carries cholesterol away from the arteries back to the liver.
For this study the researchers of the Cardiovascular Risk and Nutrition Research Group, Research Institute Hospital del Mar in Barcelona, wanted to find out if olive oil polyphenols could affect the response of genes in relation to HDL, more specifically in relation to cholesterol efflux. Cholesterol efflux capacity is a direct measure of the efficiency by which HDL removes cholesterol from cells on the artery walls, and it appears that elevated efflux capacity can reduce the risk of coronary artery disease.
In this randomized, controlled trial, the researchers assigned 13 pre/hypertensive patients to 2 groups. The first group received 30 ml (2 tablespoons) of olive oil with high polyphenol content and the second group received an olive oil with moderate polyphenol content. Analysis of several measures showed that there was a significant effect of olive oil polyphenols (from the polyphenol rich olive oil) in increasing the response of certain genes involved in cholesterol efflux from HDL. In other words, the consumption of polyphenol rich olive oil may have a positive effect on the genes involved in reducing circulating cholesterol and thus reducing cardiovascular risk.
The results of this study back up results of previous studies from the same research group that showed that polyphenol rich olive oil and the Mediterranean diet reduced the response of genes promoting buildup of plaque in the arteries.