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Olive Oil, Hydroxytyrosol, Antioxidants And Mitochondrial Functioning

Aug 10, 2017

As worldwide healthcare costs increase we should focus our everts on more cost-effective, for preventative strategies to help offset the increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease . For example, consumption of olive oil is associated with higher levels of plasma antioxidants, reduced body weight and C-reactive Protein (hs-CRP), particularly in patients that are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease . Adherence to a Mediterranean diet, rich in virgin olive oil, is associated with higher level of total plasma antioxidants- noted in medical literature as antioxidant capacity or TAC- and is increased TAC is associated with reduced body weight, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease . The mechanism by which olive oil increases activity of protective antioxidant enzymes maybe be mediated by increased activity of Nrf2-also called the master antioxidant control switch- that declines with aging. Remember that Nrf2 is the intracellular transcription factor regulating the synthesis of multiple key antioxidant and anti-inflammatory molecules such as glutathione, catalase, and SOD. Mice were genetically programed to have no Nrf2 gene expression and were then exposed to thoracic irradiation similar to that imposed on some cancer patients . The outcome: Mice with normal Nrf2 genetic expression lived 35 or more days longer than Nrf2 knock-out mice. A recent animal model study noted a correlation between long term (4.5 months) consumption of olive oil and increased levels of Nrf2 and it’s associated gene products, Glutathione-S-Transferase (GST), quinone reductase (NQO1) and the rate limiting enzyme involved in glutathione synthesis, gamma-glutamyl cysteine synthetase (gamma-GCS) .

What makes olive oil unique?

Olive oil contains a plethora of potent antioxidant polyphenols including oleupropein and hydroxytyrosol (HT), which are thought to be part of the reason why consumption of olives and olive oil foods are associated with many health benefits. Hydroxytyrosol and oleupropein may offer protection from cardiovascular disease (CVD) through preventing LDL oxidation, which as we’ve discussed before is a risk factor for CVD.  A recent animal model study found that consumption of hydroxytyrosol rich olive oil was associated with increases in antioxidant systems, increased activity of enzymes related to mitochondrial function and increased mitochondrial biogenesis and . Hydroxytyrosol increased activity of two important enzymes involved in stimulation of mitochondrial biogenesis, including PGC1-alpha and AMPK.

The Bottom Line

Plant based polyphenolics found in color rich vegetables, fruits, nuts and seed products have profound effects on the expression of our genes, preventing disease. Ensure that your diet sure is rich in locally produced, plant based, whole foods. If you have a physiologic imbalance in your metabolic machinery, it’s logical to supplement with nutrients known to activate the Nrf2 gene set like sulforaphane, curcumin, green tea, resveratrol, alpha lipoic acid and biotin.


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