Time and over again, the good health benefits of Olive Oil has been argued by dieticians and doctors. A new study conducted has revealed that it may preserve the cardiovascular health as well owing to the high concentration of phenolic compounds.
Researchers from Spain compared the effects of consuming phenol-rich olive oil against olive oil devoid of phenol related compounds. The high concentration of phenolic compounds normally found in olive oil is believed to possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties.
Persons with high cholesterol, a common risk factor for heart disease were taken into the study. Nearly 21 participants were included in the study. In order to assess the effect of diet on the heart, the ability of the volunteers' blood vessels to respond to sudden changes in blood flow in the fingers was measured by inflating and then deflating a blood pressure cuff.
A poor response to the above mentioned test was regarded as an early warning sign of cardiovascular disease as the same effect can be precipitated immediately after eating a very high fat meal. An improvement in the blood vessel response and function was noted following the first few hours after consumption of the high-phenol olive oil meal.
More specifically, the improvement was found to be associated with elevated levels of a molecule called nitric oxide. It is presumably thought to play a role in the vasodilatation effect (dilatation of blood vessels) and in effectively combating oxidative stress due to imbalance in the production and scavenging of free radicals.
As expected, no improvement could be seen after the low-phenol oil meal. The study is the first of its kind to have established a definitive, direct link between olive oil and endothelial function. The intake of food high in phenolic compounds could improve cardiovascular health and protect the heart.