Olive oil ingredient has heart-healthy effects

December 7, 2005 in Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

Olive oil ingredient has heart-healthy effects

According to Spanish researchers, certain compounds contained in olive oil may be responsible for the Mediterranean diet's well known heart-healthy effects. These compounds, known as phenols, have been previously shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and blood clot preventing powers. The study completed by Spanish researchers is the first of it kind to show a benefit for phenol-rich olive oils on blood vessel function.

Researchers compared the effect of consuming phenol-rich olive oil versus olive oil with most of its phenol content removed in a group of over 20 study participants with high cholesterol. Researchers measured the ability of the study participants' blood vessels to respond to rapid changes in blood flow after they had consumed a relatively high-fat meal containing either type of olive oil. Blood vessels have been shown to function poorly after a high-fat meal.

Blood vessel response and function was improved for the first four hours after the high-phenol olive oil meal, the researchers found, but there was no difference in blood vessel function before and after volunteers ate the low-phenol olive oil meal.

Olive oils labeled "virgin" or "extra virgin" have the highest phenol content.

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