Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The Greek extra virgin olive oil protects the cardiovascular system.

A clinical study conducted at the Department of Nutrition of the University of California, Davis * and the Nutrition Research Center of the US Department of Agriculture in California, highlighs the importance of quality Greek olive oil to health. The study tested olive oils which were selected after careful analysis of hundreds of samples from the Pharmacy Department of the University of Athens, and their composition was confirmed by  the olive center of the University of California. Tests carried out on people showed that the Greek quality extra virgin olive oil, rich in elaiokanthali, can protect the cardiovascular system.

The extra virgin olive oils contain a wide range of natural ingredients, whose relative concentration differs very much between different olive varieties. Many of these compounds have been confirmed to possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. While the term "total phenols," of an oil is accepted as a measure of antioxidant capacity, "pharmaceutical" properties may be derived from certain compounds. One example is elaiokanthali substance which binds to the spicy sensation in the throat caused by a number of fresh and high quality olive oils. This compound is known to inhibit the same enzyme which is also inhibited by aspirin, ibuprofen, and other non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). This action is supported by the daily use of the low-dose aspirin to reduce the cardiovascular risk . In fact, elaiokanthali is considered to be a natural NSAIDs but the effect had never been demonstrated in humans, only in laboratory tests. Platelet aggregation is a sensitive measure of the effect of low-dose aspirin and used as a study model of elaiokanthalis and its ability to protect against blood clots, and thus the risk of heart attack and stroke.

In this research it was studied if the ingestion of 40 ml (3 tablespoons) of olive oils with different compositions, can inhibit platelet aggregation in healthy men. Nine men of normal weight were recruited and consumed three oils in a random order in a period of three weeks, and the impact on platelet function was evaluated 2 hours after taking the oil. Oils rich in elaiokanthali and relative elaiasini compound were found to significantly inhibit platelet aggregation, whereas the oil containing no such substances, but had equivalent content in phenolics (mainly in free Tyrosol) failed to produce this result. Interestingly, of the 9 subjects studied, four showed a strong response similar to the dosage of ibuprofen 2 hours later, while the other five subjects showed little or no response.

This study clearly demonstrates that oils rich in natural anti-inflammatory substances may show effect in humans that correspond to NSAIDs drugs, but also that there is a wide range of different responses among individuals, which requires further investigation. Therefore, all extra virgin olive oils are not the same and the criterion "total phenols" is no longer enough to show their differentiation and shows a parallel connection of olive oil quality with health benefits.


* This survey was conducted in cooperation with the director of the Olive Center at the California University, Dan Flynn and implemented by Roberta R. Holt, Karan Agrawal, Selina Wang, Theresa Pedersen, Eleni Melliou, Prokopios Magiatis, John W. Newman.


*** Reference from