Posted on Apr 06, 2009, 11 a.m.
By gary clark
Scientists have discovered that one major antioxidant in olive oil â€“ DHPEA-EDA â€“ is responsible for its ability to help protect us from heart attack and stroke.
Lead Researcher Fatima Paiva-Martins and her colleagues from the University of Porto have discovered that of all major antioxidants in olive oil, DHPEA-EDA is most effective in protecting red blood cells from damage - more, in fact, than any other part of olive oil. The study, which was published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, compared the effects of "four related polyphenolic compounds on red blood cells subjected to oxidative stress by a known free radical generating chemical." As Paiva-Martins and her team found, DHPEA-EDA was the most effective at protecting red blood cells, even in low concentrations.
According to the researchers, their findings offer the first evidence that DHPEA-EDA, which comprises more than half of the total antioxidant component of olive oil, is the major source of health benefits associated with virgin olive oils. "These findings provide the scientific basis for the clear health benefits that have been seen in people who have olive oil in their diet," Paiva-Martins says. She also believes that the findings could lead to the development of "functional" olive oils specifically designed to reduce the risk of heart disease. "Now that we have identified the importance of these compounds, producers can start to care more about the polyphenolic composition of their oils," she notes.
Heart disease is caused, in part, by free radicals that act on LDL, the bad cholesterol, resulting in hardening of the arteries. Because red blood cells carry the body's oxygen, they are especially susceptible to oxidative damage. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), consuming about two tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil a day may reduce the risk of heart disease.
News Release: Source of major health benefits in olive oil revealed www.sciencedaily.com April 2, 2009