Olive Oil Extract Helps Inflammatory Bowel Disease
The olive oil you drizzle on your pizza or salad may have a role in helping to prevent inflammatory bowel disease. Researchers from the University of Seville report that extra virgin olive oil enriched with its own natural antioxidant improved inflammatory response in a mouse model of colitis.
Olive oil is a Mediterranean diet favorite
Olive oil is one of the mainstays of the Mediterranean diet, which is associated with a reduced risk of overall and cardiovascular death, a reduced incidence of cancer and cancer-related deaths, and a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. On its own, olive oil has been studied for its anti-inflammatory effects, especially in inflammatory bowel disease, of which ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are the main forms.
A compound believed to be responsible for much of the health benefits attributed to olive oil is hydroxytyrosol, the main polyphenol found in olives. Hydroxytyrosol is said to be a highly effective antioxidant, and among its health benefits it may help in preventing atherosclerosis and cancer, and promote respiratory and intestinal health.
In this most recent study, investigators randomized six-week-old mice into three groups: those given a standard diet, those fed extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), and a group provided EVOO enriched with hydroxytyrosol. After staying on this regimen for 30 days, the mice were all exposed to dextran sulphate sodium (DSS) for 5 days to induce inflammation in the colon, which ultimately resulted in colitis.
Signs of intestinal damage in the mice given EVOO were significantly less than seen in the standard diet group of mice. The EVOO fed mice also had about a 50% lower death rate associated with DSS. Mice in the enriched EVOO group showed even better results on both counts.
When investigators conducted a biochemical analysis of the mice, they also found that levels of the pro-inflammatory compound interleukin-10 were “significantly improved” in both groups of mice fed EVOO.
Overall, the authors concluded that extra virgin olive oil “exerted a significant beneficial effect in chronic DSS-induced colitis,” and that supplementation with the olive oil extract hydroxytyrosol “contributed to improve inflammatory response.” Will adding olive oil to your salad help prevent inflammatory bowel disease? Chances are good it won’t hurt.
Sanchez-Fidalgo S et al. European Journal of Nutrition 2011; doi: 10.1007/s00394-011-0235-y
Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons