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High Polyphenol Content Olive Oil May Lower LDL Cholesterol Concentrations

LDL or “bad” cholesterol has been linked with early atherosclerosis and high cardiovascular risk. A recent study suggests that the polyphenols found in olive oil may lower LDL cholesterol concentrations and the buildup of LDL in the arterial walls in healthy young men.


Participants in the study included 25 healthy European men between the ages of 20 and 59. They were given either 25 mL of raw low (2.7 mg/kg) polyphenol content olive oil or high (366 mg/kg) polyphenol oil content olive oil daily for three weeks. That was followed by a two-week washout period.


The researchers found that LDL concentrations, as measured by apolipoprotein B-100 levels and total number of LDL particles, were decreased in the high polyphenol olive oil group, when compared to baseline. Total LDL particles decreased by 12% in the high polyphenol olive oil group, compared to a 5% increase in the low polyphenol olive oil group. The high dose group also had decreases in the buildup of LDL cholesterol in the arterial walls. Additionally, LDL oxidation lag time increased by 5.0%.


The researchers then examined data from 18 other men who took part in the EUROLIVE study. They found that gene expression of the genes that produce lipoprotein lipase increased by 26% after the consumption of high polyphenol olive oil but that low polyphenol olive oil had no effect. Lipoprotein lipase is a water-soluble enzyme that hydrolyzes triglycerides in lipoproteins. In other words, it helps reduce LDL cholesterol levels.


Researchers from the REGICOR Study group as well as other European organizations conducted the study. It was published on July 1, 2015, in The Journal of Nutrition.


Olive oil has been used in folk remedies for years and recent research suggests that it may help reduce the risk of colon cancer and lower cholesterol. If you want to add more olive oil to your diet, it can be as simple as eating a spoonful daily. If eating olive oil by the spoonful doesn’t appeal to you, consider substituting olive oil for butter in your daily diet by using it for cooking, putting it on bread, or using it as a salad dressing.

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