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Olive Oil Compound Protects Against Heart Disease

By Daniel H. Rasolt

Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2009

Editor's Note:  Although this article specifically addresses cardiovascular disease, there is a direct correlation between CVD and diabetes.
(Defeat Diabetes® News) -- Already known to have general antioxidant properties, a specific antioxidant compound within olive oil has recently been identified, that may explain why people whose diets are high in olive oil have a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
The recent popularity of antioxidants as a preventative tool for CVD (which includes heart attacks and strokes), stems from their ability to battle oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Olive oil is known to contain high levels of antioxidants, and past research has shown that individuals on "Mediterranean" diets that are high in olive oil are at lower risk for CVD, but the specific antioxidant compound of olive oil responsible for this benefit was not been identified until now. "These findings provide the scientific basis for the clear health benefits that have been seen in people who have olive oil in their diet," claims lead researcher Dr. Fatima Paiva-Martins.  

The current study looked at the effects of four antioxidant, polyphenolic compounds, commonly found in olive oil, on red blood cells suffering from oxidative stress, a mechanism which often leads to CVD. It was found that the compound DHPEA-EDA was most effective in limiting damage to red blood cells caused by oxidative stress, suggesting that this compound is what makes olive oil so effective in preventing CVD. It's noted that virgin olive oil has the highest abundance of DHPEA-EDA (upwards of 50% of total antioxidant properties), and is also the most effective oil in preventing CVD. 
With the knowledge that DHPEA-EDA is so effective againt CVD, it may be possible now to create medicines, or other "functional" oils, that are heavy in this compound, as a preventative measure or treatment against CVD. Says Dr. Paiva-Martins, "now we have identified the importance of these compounds, producers can start to care more about the polyphenolic composition of their oils." Of course this research also gives further justification for eating diets high in olive oils, especially virgin olive oil.

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Paiva-Martins, Fatima. Beal, Jennifer. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research news release. April 2009.

Daniel H. Rasolt writes for Defeat Diabetes® News. Read more of his original content articles.

Copyright © 2009 Defeat Diabetes Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved.

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