Aug 24, 2012 by APRIL McCARTHY
Olive Oil Boosts The Function of Blood Vessels, But Beware Of The Source
These days, we must be very cautious of the type of olive oil we purchase since the largest majority use fillers and many are not olive oil at all. However, there is no doubting the benefits of quality olive oil to our cardiovascular system and health. Supplementing the diet with olive oil may improve the function of cells lining blood vessels in people with atherosclerosis, says a new study from the US and Italy.
Because of the many scientifically documented health benefits of extra virgin olive oil, demand for it has soared the world over. Olive trees have blossomed into money trees, and this has attracted a small army of unscrupulous operators.
To boost profits, for example, some producers have been caught adulterating the oil they label as "extra virgin" with much cheaper hazelnut, soy, or sunflower seed oil, among others, as well as mislabeling its country of origin.
How do you find a reputable source?
There are hundreds of different kinds of olives, which make thousands of different kinds of oil. Asking "what's the best olive oil?" is like asking "what's the best wine?"
Know the when, who, where of your oil: When it was made (harvest date), who made it (specific producer name), and exactly where on the planet they made it. To get the freshest oil, and cut out middle-men who often muddy olive oil transparency and quality, buy as close to the mill as possible. Do your research. Visit a vendor that performs stringent quality control in their production and selection of oils
If you buy quality olive oil from a reputable source, you won't be disappointed, and the benefits last as long as you consume this amazing source of polyphenols.
Another marketing hype to look out for is the fortifying of olive oil with epigallocatechin 3-gallate (EGCG). It does not produce any additional benefits, report researchers.
"The current study demonstrates that longer-term supplementation of olive oil improves endothelial function in individuals with low to intermediate cardiovascular risk, an effect likely attributed to reduction in vascular inflammation," they wrote in the European Journal of Nutrition .
"This is the first such demonstration of such a permanent endothelial benefit via long-term supplementation of a macronutrient."
Researchers from the Mayo Clinic and College of Medicine and Dipartimento di Scienze Farmaceutiche in Florence investigated the effects of olive oil supplementation (30 mL per day providing 340 mg/kg polyphenols), with or without added EGCG (providing a total of 600 mg/kg of polyphenols), on endothelial function -- the cells lining the surface of the blood vessels.
Dysfunction of the endothelium is reported to be a predictor of future cardiovascular events in people with high risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease.
The participants all had atherosclerosis, meaning they already had endothelial dysfunction. Eighty-two people participated in the double-blind, randomized trial.
Fifty-two people completed the four month study and results showed that olive oil "significantly improved endothelial function", with no significant differences between the groups.
Olive oil was also associated with a "significant reduction in inflammatory parameters", said the researchers.
"Interestingly, patients with low endothelial function at baseline appear to garner the most benefit from olive oil," they said.
"Thus, supplementation with olive oil seems a reasonably easy and relatively cheap dietary measure to improve the endothelial function and perhaps favorably alter the progression of atherosclerotic disease, particularly in patients with already markedly impaired endothelial function."
European Journal of Nutrition
April McCarthy is a community journalist playing an active role reporting and analyzing world events to advance our health and eco-friendly initiatives.