Eat Olives for Heart Health
Most of us have heard of the health benefits linked to the Mediterranean Diet. The secret “sauce” has always been thought to be olive oil. While olive oil may certainly have health benefits, it is the actual olive that is the real prize.
A phenolic compound found in olives and the olive leaf, oleuropein, is being studied for cardiovascular AND anti-cancer properties.
A recent study confirmed that this nutrient in olives leads to extraordinary health benefits. It was a rodent study, but the results are fascinating.
According to the study authors (1):
- Oleuropein reduced body weight, fat mass and serum lipids levels in obese rats.
- Oleuropein was able to prevent the elevation of ALT and AST.
- Oleuropein increased adiponectin level.
- Oleuropein induced AMPK activation and suppressed PPARγ in adipose tissue (these are good things). Read more about AMPK activation in my post about berberine.
Olive component lowers blood pressure
Olive leaf extract and the active ingredient, oleuropein was compared to the prescription drug captopril for blood pressure reduction. The two were equivalent (2). Another study done in twins, found the twin who received the olive extract had much better blood pressure control than the twin who didn’t (3). A lot of the blood pressure benefits may be due to the fact that oleuropein promotes endothelial health, the lining of blood vessels (4).
Other benefits include:
- Arthritis- multiple studies demonstrate the anti-inflammatory component of olives.
- Brain Health- animal studies find the olive components protect against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The anti-oxidant components are likely responsible for this effect. It also appears that oleuropein inhibits the neurofibrillary tangles common in Alzheimer’s.
- Diabetes-lowered blood sugar more than a well known prescription drug (5).
- Cancer- The Mediterranean Diet has repeatedly proven to lower cancer risk. Multiple studies confirm the ability of olive components to protect against cancer.
There are plenty of supplements that include olive leaf extract. I am a supplements pusher and love to see that ingredient in a product. But, it is always best to eat real food. Therefore, eat olives.
We love eating olives as they make a great snack by themselves or added to a salad. We also have a delicious recipe that adds olives to a chicken dish. The kids love olives in just about everything. They even put them on celery.
We also use plenty of olive oil. Olive oil (and olives) need to be organic. Oil should be housed in a dark glass bottle and kept away from sunlight. Extra-virgin, first, cold-pressed. We sell this brand in our office.
Rinse olives to get some of the salt off. Go with brands that avoid citric acid and other preservatives. Check out the brand, Essential Living Foods.
We also found this recipe from FoodieCrush.com. Just make sure all of the ingredients are organic, try using coconut oil or ghee instead of butter, and use gluten-free flour where wheat flour is called for. Capers are in this recipe. Read more about the amazing health benefits of capers.
- Susalit E, Agus N, Effendi I, et al. Olive (Olea europaea) leaf extract effective in patients with stage-1 hypertension: comparison with Captopril. Phytomedicine.2011 Feb 15;18(4):251-8.
- Perrinjaquet-Moccetti T, Busjahn A, Schmidlin C, Schmidt A, Bradl B, Aydogan C. Food supplementation with an olive (Olea europaea L.) leaf extract reduces blood pressure in borderline hypertensive monozygotic twins. Phytother Res. 2008 Sep;22(9):1239-42.
- Visioli F, Bellosta S, Galli C. Oleuropein, the bitter principle of olives, enhances nitric oxide production by mouse macrophages. Life Sci. 1998;62(6):541-6.
- Eidi A, Eidi M, Darzi R. Antidiabetic effect of Olea europaea L. in normal and diabetic rats. Phytother Res. 2009 Mar;23(3):347-50. Blood sugar