If you think you know about all of the antioxidants you need, it’s time to reconsider. There is one antioxidant that you probably have never heard of – hydroxytyrosol. Hydroxytyrosol is the most powerful antioxidant that you’ve never heard of, but that you are probably already eating. Keep reading to find out what hydroxytyrosol is and what health benefits this antioxidant compound has for you.
What is Hydroxytyrosol?
Hydroxytyrosol is one of the main antioxidant components found in olives, and has been receiving high praise for its potential health benefits. This simple phenolic compound is found in the fruits and leaves of the olive tree, in extra virgin olive oil and in high concentrations in olive oil mill wastewater. It is research into olive oil and it’s health benefits that lead to the isolation and further studies of hydroxytyrosol. Hydroxytyrosol is fat and water soluble and is the only phenol that is able to cross the blood-brain barrier, which means that it is able to absorb free radicals throughout the entire central nervous system. The fact that hydroxytyrosol is fat and water soluble means that it has a high bioavailability (the ease with which substances are able to transfer from your foods to your body).
What are the Health Benefits of Hydroxytyrosol?
Research is ongoing about the possible health benefits that hydroxytyrosol has, but it is a well-documented antioxidant with incredible anti-inflammatory abilities. Some other potential health benefits of hydroxytyrosol include:
Neuroprotection – In 2007, a two-part German study discovered that orally ingesting hydroxytyrosol did have neuroprotective effects on the mice used in the study. Three years late, the same group of researchers conducted a study on hydroxytyrosol and its possible effects on age-related cognitive decline. According to the second study, “the results we obtained mainly confirms our previous observation of promising cytoprotection of brain cells.” Essentially, hydroxytyrosol may offer significant mental protection against cognitive decline associated with aging.
Breast Cancer – Many antioxidants are thought to help with various cancers due to their impressive health benefits like reducing inflammation and annihilating harmful free radicals. Studies have indicated that eating olive oil was linked to lower incidences of breast cancer, so a team of Spanish researchers isolated hydroxytyrosol and tested its effects on breast cell lines. “Hydroxytyrosol could contribute to a lower incidence of breast cancer in populations that consume virgin olive oil due to its antioxidant activity and its protection against oxidative DNA damage in mammary cells.”
Cardiovascular Health – In a study published in Frontiers in Nutrition, researchers looked at hydroxytyrosol and its possible effect on cardiovascular diseases. “Mechanisms of action include potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, among others. The importance of hydroxytyrosol in protection of low-density lipoproteins and consequently its implication in the reduction of cardiovascular disease risk has been highlighted by the European Food Safety Authority, concluding that 5 mg of hydroxytyrosol and its derivatives should be consumed daily to reach this effect at a physiological level.”
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