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Phenolic compounds may explain Mediterranean diet benefits

eness to this sort of blood flow test is considered an early warning sign of cardiovascular disease. Previous studies have linked high-fat meals to poor endothelial function lasting for several hours after eating.

In order to focus on the role of phenolic compounds, the researchers put each participant through the process twice in a randomized order, once using olive oil naturally high in phenolic compounds (400 parts per million) and once with the same brand of olive oil that had been processed to remove most of the phenolic compounds (80 parts per million remaining).

"We think, looking at our results, that the reduction in oxidative stress and the increase in the nitric oxide bioavailability are behind the observed improvement in ischemic reactive hyperemia," Dr. Pérez Jiménez said.

Dr. Pérez Jiménez said that olive oil may be superior to seed oils because it is a natural juice, pressed from the olives, so it does not go through the type of processing needed to extract oil from seeds, such as sunflowers, soybeans and rapeseeds. Nevertheless, he said further studies should be done to investigate whether phenolic compounds in olive oil can be linked to improved health outcomes.

"Although our study shows a direct benefit of an olive oil with high content in phenolic compounds on endothelial function in humans, carefully controlled studies in appropriate populations, or with a large sample size, are required to definitively establish the in vivo antioxidant properties of these components in relation to cardiovascular disease outcomes. On the other hand, some data suggest that endothelial dysfunction could be a surrogate end point for prediction of cardiovascular risk, but we need more information on the utility of the different methods to evaluate endothelial dysfunction," Dr. Pérez Jiménez said.

Robert F. Wilson, M.D., from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, who was not connected with this study, noted that health bene
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Source:American College of Cardiology


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