Spanish researchers believe they’ve broken the code — a genetic code, in fact.
And not only does it appear to be the secret to why olive oil is so heart healthy, it might also be the key reasons Mediterranean dieters live long, robust lives.
Twenty subjects with metabolic syndrome consumed meals that included either a high phenol olive oil or a low phenol olive oil.
As I’ve mentioned before, phenols contain biologically active compounds that are remarkably high in antioxidants. Olive oil phenols are most highly concentrated in extra virgin olive oil, which is made from cold-pressed olives — no heat or chemicals are used in refining.
Results of the Spanish study showed that the high phenol extra virgin olive oil repressed the inflammatory activity of nearly 100 genes that play a key role in prompting inflammation.
In the journal BMC Genomics, the authors note that their results provide a likely explanation for the reduced risk of heart disease among those who follow a Mediterranean diet.
“Gene Expression Changes in Mononuclear Cells from Patients with Metabolic Syndrome after Acute Intake of Phenol-Rich Virgin Olive Oil” BMC Genomics, Published online ahead of print 4/20/10, biomedcentral.com