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Mediterranean diets have medicinal benefits: Olive leaf extract can reduce your risk of several diseases


Olive leaf extract comes from the olive tree, the same tree where olive oil comes from. People in the Mediterranean region have used olive leaves as a staple in their diet and in traditional medicine.

A growing body of evidence has shown that the olive leaf extracts are a natural source of wellness with therapeutic properties. Olive leaf extracts have the same benefits as olive oil, but in a much more concentrated form. They contain polyphenols, such as oleacein and oleuropein, that help protect against many health problems.

High blood pressure

People with hypertension, or high blood pressure, may benefit from consuming olive leaf extract. One study published in Phytomedicine looked at the effect of consuming either 500 milligrams (mg) of olive leaf extract or 12.5 to 25 mg of a blood pressure-lowering drug called captopril twice a day for eight weeks on people with stage 1 hypertension. After the treatment period, the researchers found that olive leaf extract is as effective as captopril as both groups had significantly lower blood pressure.

A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition compared the effects of olive leaf extract containing 136 mg of oleuropein with a placebo daily on people with stage 1 hypertension. After six weeks of intervention, results showed that those who took the olive leaf extract had a significantly lower blood pressure than those who took the placebo.

High cholesterol

Preliminary evidence suggests that olive leaf extract may improve cholesterol levels. In a study published in Phytotherapy Research, researchers gave rats either a high-cholesterol or a normal diet. The researchers also gave olive leaf extracts to some of the rats in both groups. After eight weeks, the high-cholesterol group had higher levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol. However, the cholesterol-fed rats who also received olive leaf extracts had significantly lower levels of cholesterol than those that received a high-cholesterol diet only.

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These results also apply to humans. Another study published in Phytotherapy Research compared the effects of olive leaf extract supplementation with lifestyle advice in 40 identical twins with high cholesterol levels. After eight weeks, the researchers discovered that olive leaf extract supplementation greatly reduced the participants’ LDL cholesterol levels in a dose-dependent manner. The greater the dose the participants took, the greater the benefit they received.

Obesity

The oleuropein in olive tree leaves may help prevent weight gain. In a study published in Chemico-Biological Interactions, researchers gave oleuropein to obese rats that consumed a high-cholesterol diet for eight weeks. After the treatment, the researchers found that the rats had a lower body weight, less fat tissue, and an improved metabolic profile.

In another study, which was published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, mice consuming a high-fat diet were supplemented with oleuropein. Like the previous study, researchers found that oleuropein supplementation led to lower body weight and prevented weight gain in mice.

The findings of these studies indicated that the oleuropein in olive leaves may potentially reduce weight gain and lower the risk of obesity.

Type 2 diabetes

Consuming olive leaf may help protect against Type 2 diabetes. A study published in PLOS One randomly assigned overweight middle-aged men to take either olive leaf extracts or a placebo every day for 12 weeks. The results showed that those who took the olive leaf extracts experienced great improvements in insulin sensitivity and pancreatic responsiveness – both of which are risk factors in the development of Type 2 diabetes – compared with those who took a placebo.

Adding olive leaves to your diet

You can consume olive leaf in teas, tinctures, and capsules. There is no strict guideline on how much olive leaf extract you can consume, but doses from 250 mg to 2,000 mg are found to be beneficial in most studies. (Related: Olive Leaf Offers Many Healing Benefits.)

The Mediterranean diet is also rich in health-promoting olive oil, which is a well-known superfood that boasts of many health benefits.

Sources include:

MedicalNewsToday.com

Prevention.com

Healthline.com



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