By Sade Oguntola,
OLIVE oil, the centerpiece of the Mediterranean diet, a regime long associated with healthy heart and improved blood flow, may prevent getting infected with the Helicobacter pylori bacteria, the cause of millions of gastric and peptic ulcer cases worldwide.
Researchers from the Spanish Institute de la Grasa and the University Hospital of Valme, confirmed this when they simulated in laboratory conditions polyphenol-rich extra virgin olive oil antibacterial effects against eight strains of H. Pylori, three of which are even resistant to antibiotic.
Lead author, Concepcion Romero in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry said, “the results open the possibility of considering extra virgin olive oil as a compound to use to protect oneself from peptic or gastric cancer”, adding that its effectiveness, however, would need to be confirmed in animal studies in the future.
The new study that is the first to look at the potential anti-H. Pylori role of olive oil polyphenols, used laboratory experiments to demonstrate that under simulated conditions, the healthful phenolic compounds in extra virgin olive oil remain stable in the acidic environment of the stomach for hours. The olive oil extract’s anti-bacterial effects were found to be dose-dependent.
In view of the low concentration require to ensure bactericidal effect against H. Pylori, it is promising to carry out studies in animals with extra virgin olive oil to prevent and control peptic ulcers and gastric cancer caused by this bacteria, the researchers concluded.
For many years, consumer’s interest in olive oil had been high following several studies linking the a diet having olive oil to reduction in the risk for certain types of cancer and its ability to lower blood pressure.
The results of the study, published in the Journal of Nutrition suggested that moderate intake of olive oil was successful in reducing the blood pressure of healthy men who don’t usually eat a Mediterranean-type diet.
The study, led by Isabel Bondia-Pons from University of Barcelona, randomly assigned 110 healthy men from non-Mediterranean countries (Germany, Finland and Denmark) and 45 men from Mediterranean regions (Spain and Italy) to include one of three similar olive oils (25 millimetres per day) in their diets.
The cross-over trial consisted of three three-week intervention periods of separated by two-two-week wash-out periods.
They found that blood levels of oleic acid increased by two to three per cent in the men from the nonMediterranean countries, while the men from Mediterranean regions did not exhibit a significant increase in blood oleic acid levels. At the end of the total nine-week intervention period, the researchers’ reported that the systolic blood pressure (SBP) of the non-Mediterranean men decreased significantly by three per cent, compared to baseline measurements.
Though they said there might be the need to verify whether small changes or modifications in diet can be made, which could then become habitual, from the results, they suggested that a moderate consumption of olive oil may be used as a effective tool to reduce SBP of healthy men who do not typical consume a Mediterranean diet.
Olive oil consumption preventing cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, diabetes, and hypertension is also substantiated by another group of researchers from Italy that said typrosol, the most abundant biophenol in olive oil, could boost a cell’s antioxidant defence.
Though tyrosol has a weak antioxidant power, the researchers believe it may play a role in protecting and maintaining the antioxidant defence of a cell. In the presence of the so-called “bad” cholesterol (LDL), tyrosol was found to inhibit its oxidation by about 40 per cent. Oxidative modification of LDL has a major role in the harden of blood vessel (atherosclerosis), and subsequently heart disease.
Similarly, olive extract’s ability to improve blood flow and so a boost for an healthy heart, a study traced to its oleuropein content. “Oleuropein, for three or six weeks, reduced infract size, conferred strong antioxidant protection and reduce the circulating lipids” the lead researcher, Loanna Andreadou from the University of Athens wrote on the study carried out in rabbits subjected to coronary ischemia (inadequate blood supply caused by blockage of blood vessels).
It was found that rabbits consuming the normal diet had significantly reduced heart attack risk when supplemented with the lower dose of the olive extract (16.1 per cent after three weeks compared to 48 per cent in the control/unsupplemented group).
Olive oil is more than a monosaturated fat. Its phenolic content that has being linked to longer life, less cases of heart disease and protective against some cancers should make it the oil to patronize by all.
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