Olive oil is without a doubt one of the healthiest oils on the planet. The traditional oil used in the diets of those living in the Mediterranean, olive oil is rich in a number of nutrients that can benefit your well-being. Not only does olive oil contain monounsaturated fats, it is also a rich source of antioxidants and vitamins. Recently, researchers have been investigating olive oil’s phenols to determine the exact way these healing substances could help the heart and brain.
One such polyphenol called oleuropein has been found to have specific cardio and neuro-protective actions in the body. Oleuropein works as an antioxidant, preventing free radical damage to cells in both the heart and brain. Throughout the course of life, both your heart and brain are asked to perform tirelessly day and night. This tremendous responsibility is often impeded by free radicals that slowly infiltrate the tissues of these two organs and accumulate to the point where significant damage can occur. This is one area where oleuropein can step in and exert powerful protective effects.
In the heart specifically, oleuropein exerts an anti-atherogenic effect, helping to prevent harmful plaque build-up in the arteries that can lead to atherosclerosis and heart disease. Oleuropein has been tagged as a substance which can prevent lipoprotein oxidation. Too much low-density lipoprotein (LDL) can be bad for your heart but when this bad type of cholesterol becomes oxidized, the situation is even worse. Oxidized LDL is readily taken up in the body and it can become the major component in atherosclerotic plaques.
Another way that oleuropein protects the heart is by triggering a protective effect against certain drugs that inadvertently harm the heart. One such drug, “Adriamycin,” used to treat cancer, can cause cardio-toxicity. Oleuropein, however, seems able to protect against the harmful effects of adriamycin. Cardio-toxicity, when left to progress freely, can cause damage to the heart muscle, hindering its ability to pump blood throughout your body.
As far as your brain goes, oleuropein has shown neuro-protective effects by adversely affecting Aβ peptide—a major component of amyloid plaques. Amyloid plaques play a key role in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurodegenerative conditions.
Adding olive oil to your diet makes sense on so many levels. Not only will olive oil protect your heart and brain function, it will exert other health benefits as well. These include:
- Helping to prevent the onset of cancerous tumors in the breast, prostate, and digestive tract.
- Lowering both diastolic and systolic blood pressure.
- Protecting against diabetes complications by lowering LDL cholesterol, boosting insulin sensitivity, and improving blood sugar control.
- Reducing obesity by adding healthy fats to the diet.
- Playing a role in the prevention of osteoporosis by improving bone mineralization and calcium absorption.
For the best cardio and neuro-protective effects, buy extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is produced without the use of solvents and under temperatures that won’t degrade the oil.
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Omar, S.H., et al., “Cardioprotective and neuroprotective roles of oleuropein in olive,” Saudi Pharm J. July 2010; 18(3): 111-21.
Elamin, M.H., et al., “Olive oil oleuropein has anti-breast cancer properties with higher efficiency on ER-negative cells,” Food Chem Toxicol. March 2013; 53: 310-6.
Situm, M., et al., “Olive oil biophenols and women’s health,” Med Glas (Zenica). February 2012; 9(1): 1-9.