26 Oct

Aussie scientists in olive breakthrough

Australian ingenuity means olive scraps usually thrown out after oil-making could soon be saved and bottled as a therapeutic remedy for heart patients.

Scientists at Charles Sturt University and the Heart Research Institute have discovered that the dregs of olive oil have anti-inflammatory benefits.

The pulp contains over 100 antioxidants, several of which they believe could be beneficial in halting hardening in the arteries, or atherosclerosis, associated with poor heart health.

They have also been shown to lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

“It’s very exciting to discover something that is just raw waste disposal at the moment has properties that could be used to heal,” said chemistry scientist Dr Paul Prenzler.

“It opens the way for a whole new industry.”

The team will present their findings on the extracts at an international nutrition conference in Malta.

They’ve discovered one “very active” compound, called luteolin, which has shown particular promise, but have yet to find the best way to use it.

“It might be good on it’s own or teamed up with various other compounds for a really good synergy, we just don’t know yet,” Dr Prenzler said.

They were also working out the best application – either on its own, as a base for heart disease medications or as an additive to food to create a niche product.

“It’s been added to make an anti-ageing bread in Spain, so maybe we could come up with a heart health product,” he said.

“If we can work out how to do it the olive industry in Australian could generate a viable alternative income stream.”

Olive oil is known as a good source of dietary antioxidants – compounds also found in red wine and tea believed to benefit health.

But only two per cent of the antioxidants in the fruit actually end up in the oil, with 98 per cent remaining in the pulp.

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