05 Mar

The Effect of Polyphenols in Olive Oil on Heart Disease Risk Factors

right arrow María-Isabel Covas, MSc, PhD, and Jukka T. Salonen, MD, PhD
6 March 2007 | Volume 146 Issue 5 | Pages 394-395


IN RESPONSE: We agree with Mascitelli and colleagues that an interaction between polyphenols from olive oil and iron metabolism could, at least in part, explain the reduction in oxidative lipid damage observed in the Effect of Olive Oil on Oxidative Damage in European Populations (EUROLIVE) study.However, a reduction of iron absorption by polyphenols seems currently to be the most probable mechanism for the interaction.
In vivo changes in the iron–ascorbate–oxygen–radical generating system are not yet well defined (1), whereas the inhibition of nonheme iron absorption by dietary polyphenols (that is, from tea) is well known (2). The potential effect of low iron status, such as that induced by blood donation, on LDL oxidation markers is still under debate (3). Although iron depletion by blood donations increases HDL cholesterol levels in humans (4), an experimental study in hypercholesterolemic rats showed that the excess of iron, not its depletion, increased HDL cholesterol levels (5). Mascitelli and colleagues suggest that lowering the availability of reactive iron in vivo either by decreasing stored iron level or by acute iron chelation may improve antioxidant activity and increase HDL cholesterol levels by closely related mechanisms. However, this can neither be supported nor dismissed on the basis of our presented findings. The interaction among polyphenols from olive oil, iron absorption, and oxidative stress merits further investigation.
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