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) .
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