Olive oil is one of the healthiest oils in the world, and it's a staple ingredient in the Mediterranean diet, which is known for its numerous health benefits. Olive oil contains different types of compounds that are beneficial to health, such as monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), antioxidants, and phenolic compounds.
Phenolic compounds, in particular, are known for their antioxidant properties, which protect the body against oxidative stress and inflammation, two of the main factors that contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Phenolic compounds are abundant in high phenolic olive oil, which is produced by using specific methods that preserve the phenolic content of the olives.
But, can high phenolic olive oil help lower cholesterol? Let's explore the science behind it. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is present in all animal-based foods, including meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs. Our liver also produces cholesterol, which is necessary for the production of hormones, vitamin D, and bile acids that aid in digestion. However, too much cholesterol in the bloodstream can lead to the formation of plaques in the arteries, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
There are two types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is often referred to as "bad" cholesterol because it can build up in the walls of arteries, while HDL is known as "good" cholesterol because it helps remove LDL from the bloodstream.
Studies have shown that consuming high phenolic olive oil can help improve cholesterol levels by reducing LDL cholesterol and increasing HDL cholesterol. For example, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that consuming high phenolic olive oil for three weeks reduced LDL cholesterol levels by 9.2% and increased HDL cholesterol levels by 8.7%. Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming high phenolic olive oil for two weeks improved the function of HDL cholesterol, making it more effective at removing LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream.
The beneficial effects of high phenolic olive oil on cholesterol levels are thought to be due to its high content of phenolic compounds, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These compounds may help reduce inflammation in the arteries, improve blood vessel function, and prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which can make it more harmful to the body.
It's important to note that while high phenolic olive oil can be beneficial for cholesterol levels, it should not be relied upon as the sole method of reducing cholesterol. Other lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking, are also important for reducing cholesterol levels and preventing heart disease.
In conclusion, high phenolic olive oil can be a beneficial addition to a healthy diet for improving cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of heart disease. When choosing olive oil, look for those labeled as "high phenolic" and use them in moderation as part of a healthy, balanced diet.