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Should You AVOID Olive Oil?

Diets rich in olive oil have been shown to reduce the risk for heart disease.

Similarly, the potent catechin found in green tea, reffered to as EGCG, has also been shown to improve the health of your heart and promote better longevity.

In Mediterranean cultures (France and Italy), the use of olive oil has been widely known to lower the mortality risk even when they indulge in a high fat diet.

Likewise, Asian cultures have used green tea as a natural alternative to promote better health and wellness and prolong life.

Olive oil is full of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and green tea is full of the catechin, EGCG(EGCG is the most abundant catechin in tea and is a potent antioxidant that may have therapeutic applications in the treatment of many disorders (e.g. cancer), which could help explain their respective health benefits.

However, some researchers wondered if the combination of the two, olive oil and EGCG, could elicit greater heart-health benefits, than either of the two alone.

The results of their work have been recently published in the European Journal of Nutrition, which could potentially answer the important question of which is more beneficial to heart health: olive oil or the combination of the two.

Let me explain…

Promoting Better Endothelial Function

It has been shown that a heart-healthy diet full of plant-enriched olive oil and EGCG has been shown to promote better overall health.

It has also been shown that this type of diet (high in good fats and powerful antioxidants) may be able to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease.

The authors of this study wanted to see if olive oil, supplemented with EGCG, was more effective at reducing cardiovascular risk factors (reduction of endothelial dysfunction) compared to regular olive oil.

They recruited 82 patients (of which only 52 completed the actual trial) who had early cardiovascular disease (endothelial dysfunction) and supplemented their diet with 30 mg of olive oil or 30 mg of olive oil supplemented with EGCG.

After only four months, they combined the two groups and compared the results.

They showed that the olive oil only group showed significant improvements in their endothelial function.

Also, the researchers noted that the olive oil group showed a decrease in inflammation, white blood cell count, monocytes, lymphocytes, and platelets.

From their data, they showed that olive oil, independent from EGCG, was able to improve endothelial function in patients with early atherosclerotic disease by reducing inflammation, which ultimately could explain the improvements in endothelial function.

Although this research is new, more research is warranted in order to verify their findings.  However, this does show promise for including olive oil as a part of a heart-healthy diet.

Improvements in Heart Health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and it is estimated to cost billions of dollars per year in direct healthcare costs.

It has been shown that lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, and improving endothelial function may be beneficial to improving many parameters of heart health.

Olive oil and green tea have been used for centuries in Asian and Mediterranean cultures as a way to improve overall health and wellness.

However, according to the results of this study, olive oil by itself (without EGCG), has been shown to improve endothelial function, therefore potentially improving heart health and reducing overall death rates from heart disease.

Including olive oil, essential fatty acids, and plenty of fiber could be a recipe for better heart health, weight loss, and overall health improvements.

MORE ABOUT EGCG:

Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), also known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate, is the ester of epigallocatechin and gallic acid , and is a type of catechin.

EGCG is the most abundant catechin in tea and is a potent antioxidant that may have therapeutic applications in the treatment of many disorders (e.g. cancer). It is found in green tea but not black tea; during black tea production, the catechins are converted to theaflavins and thearubigins.[3] In a high temperature environment, an epimerization change is more likely to occur; however as exposure to boiling water for 30 straight minutes leads to only a 12.4% reduction in the total amount of EGCG, the amount lost in a brief exposure is insignificant. In fact, even when special conditions were used to create temperatures well above that of boiling water, the amount lost increased only slightly.[4]

EGCG can be found in many supplements

 

References:

Widmer RJ, Freund MA, Hammer AJ, Sexton J, Lennon R, Romani A, Mulinacci N, Vinceri FF, Lerman LO, Lerman A.  Beneficial effects of polyphenol-rich olive oil in patients with early atherosclerosis.  Eur J Nutr.  2012. doi: 10.1007/s00394-012-0433-2.
 

Author: Russ Logisse

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