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A study reveals the anti-inflammatory properties of virgin olive oil

11.12.2008
Researchers from the Hospital Universitario Reina Sofía de Córdoba (University Hospital Reina Sofía of Córdoba, Spain) have carried out a study in order to determine the influence of the micronutrients of certain fats on cardiovascular diseases, diabetes or cancer, and if their consumption might modify the inflammatory process in healthy people.

To this end, they have studied the consumption in diets with different fatty composition, based on extra virgin olive oil, nuts and butter, observing that extra virgin olive oil modulate on a downward trend healthy individuals’ inflammatory levels, whereas a diet rich in nuts has an intermediate effect and the diet rich in butter exerts a damaging effect on inflammation mediators.

High-impact international scientific journals specialized in the nutrition field such as the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism or Atherosclerosis have already echoed the results of this work carried out by the Lipids and Atherosclerosis Unit of the Reina Sofía University Hospital, under the direction of doctors Francisco Pérez Jiménez and José López Miranda, with the collaboration of the Laboratory of Experimental Nephrology and Vascular Pathology of the Jiménez Díaz Foundation.

During the development of this research work, the persons in charge of the study have observed that olive oil reduces the plasmatic concentration of other molecules which express in the walls of blood vessels and also favour inflammation, confirming the incidence of consumption in the improvement of the inflammatory process. The researchers attribute this new beneficial effect of olive oil, at least in part, to the high presence of micronutrients and, despite the fact that at present we are ignorant of the effects of most of them, they have suggested possibility that they might act due to a direct effect, similar to that of anti-inflammatory drugs.

Antioxidant properties
The Lipids and Atherosclerosis Unit of the Reina Sofía Hospital is working at present in the search for beneficial effects related to the usual consumption of virgin olive oil. According to Doctor Pablo Pérez Martínez, “the main property of olive oil is its richness of antioxidants, which makes it a unique fat. Therefore, we must clarify which is the added value of its components, as that is the only way to establish that a healthy diet must contain olive oil as its main fat.” According to Doctor Pérez Martínez, “olive oil is a key food in the Mediterranean diet, as it is its main source of fats and provides it with high-nutritional-value micro-components.” According to the researcher, a diet based on olive oil reduces bad cholesterol (LDL) brings arterial pressure down, improves diabetes control and reduces the trend to suffer from thrombosis. In the last years, and thanks to the new technologies, we have other oils suitable for human nutrition with a similar fatty composition, such as those extracted from certain seeds with high varieties of oleic, like sunflower, soya and canola oil. However, according to Doctor Pérez Martínez, such oils present an essential difference with the oil extracted from olives, as “olive oil is a natural juice, which contains hundreds of non-fatty micro-components of biological interest, such as vitamin E, carotenes, scalene, chlorophyll and, especially, phenolic compounds”.
Micronutrients benefits
According to Doctor Pérez Martínez, the results of this study confirm once again the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, “a model of feeding with a high monounsaturated fat content from virgin olive oil, able to induce a wide range of biological effects on the cardiovascular system”. In addition, according to the researcher, the most recent studies are gradually defining that some benefits depend on or can be favoured with the consumption of olive oil rich in micro-components, like in the case of extra virgin olive oil and its anti-inflammatory properties, which are a new added value, together with the rest of well-known beneficial effects.

Antonio Marín Ruiz | alfa
Further information:
http://www.oleociencia.com

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