Olive Oil May Be Key to Med. Diet’s Benefits – Study

Consuming good quality olive oil may help stifle genes in your body that can trigger the kind of inflammation that produces heart disease, a study suggests.

The finding may partly explain why people who eat a Mediterranean diet are found to have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, suggest researchers writing in the  journal BMC Genomics.

The Mediterranean diet typically includes plenty of olive oil, fruits, vegetables, legumes and fish.

The researchers pointed to the phenols – or micronutrients – found in virgin olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil, considered a higher grade of oil, has a “particularly large” proportion of phenols, noted a news release announcing the study.

The scientists studied how virgin olive oil can influence certain genes involved in triggering harmful inflammation in humans. The phenols in virgin olive oil, in effect, put a lid on the “pro-inflammatory” genes, researchers suggested.

“These findings strengthen the relationship between inflammation … and diet and provide evidence at the most basic level of healthy effects derived from virgin olive oil consumption in humans,” said Francisco Perez-Jimenez from Spain’s University of Cordoba, who led the research team.

The researchers followed 20 patients suffering from metabolic syndrome, which is linked to heart disease and type-2 diabetes. The patients ate two types of breakfast for six weeks: a diet with virgin olive oil, and one featuring a lower grade olive oil with fewer phenols.

The scientists then studied the patients’ gene activity and found a link between virgin olive oil and the suppression of inflammatory genes.

“Several of the repressed genes are known to be involved in pro-inflammatory processes, suggesting that the diet can switch the activity of immune system cells to a less (harmful) inflammatory profile,”  said Perez-Jimenez.

Bon appétit,

Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch

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