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Olive oil and its polyphenols enhance health and prevent cardiovascular disease.
Olive oil is the core of the Mediterranean diet and has important pharmacological properties, hypolipidemic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, as noted by Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry Ioanna Andreadou. The researchers are targeting olive oil hydroxytyrosol, a molecule of particular interest to the pharmaceutical industry because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity against cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome, the neuroprotection it provides and its chemotropic action against tumours. Hydroxytyrosol is not only found in olive oil – ideally in an amount of 5 mg/day – but also in dietary supplements for those with cardiovascular disease.
The advantages of olive oil and polyphenols, such as hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein, which are present in olive leaves and fruit, enhancing health and preventing cardiovascular diseases, were the subject of the discussion of the first webinar organised by the Hellenic Centre for Cardiology (ELIKAR) with the support of the pharmaceutical company InterMed.
Professor of Cardiology at the 2nd University Cardiology Clinic of Attikon Hospital Eustathios Iliodromitis, who moderated the webinar, stresses that the Mediterranean diet has been proven to benefit the cardiovascular system. Professor of the Department of Pharmacognosy and Chemistry of Natural Products at the Department of Pharmacy, Leander Skaltsounis, points out that research shows that the polyphenols in olive oil help protect blood lipids from oxidative stress. But for this to be true, 20 mg of olive oil must contain 5 mg of hydroxytyrosol (about 20 green olives) and its derivatives. Currently, the University of Athens is carrying out a research project on the analysis of olive oil called OLIVENET. For his part, the nutritionist Haris Dimosthenopoulos, head of the Laikos Hospital, stresses that the interest in hydroxytyrosol has led to extensive research on its biological activity, its beneficial effects on humans and the synthesis of new molecules. Tyrosol, hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein are among the main phenolic compounds in fruit, leaf and olive tree oil. Due to its bioavailability of chemical properties, easy synthesis and lack of toxicity, hydroxytyrosol is considered an excellent dietary supplement by the food and nutrition industries.
A 2017 study by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) shows the positivity and safety of hydroxytyrosol as a novel dietary element. Modern industry adds hydroxytyrosol to a range of foods such as fish fats, meats, margarines, even giving a gram list for children, adults and the elderly. “Hydroxytyrosol protects the cardiovascular system, as long as we take that 5 mg, which is the minimum amount, but safe,” concludes Charis Dimosthenopoulos.