Help for Heart Disease from an Unexpected Place
You know the fruit well; though you may not think of it as a fruit. You probably use the oil all the time. But you may not know that the most important part of this plant may just be the leaf. And that leaf may save your heart.
Surprisingly, olive leaf contains way more of the phenolic compounds that are so good for you than olives or olive oil. The phenolic compounds in olive leaf, like oleuropein, are antibacterial and antiviral. But, importantly for cardiovascular disease, they are also antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation have now been recognized as major players in cardiovascular disease.
Several studies have suggested that olive leaf extract is beneficial for heart health. One study has even suggested that it is better than the drug captopril because, while both significantly improved systolic and diastolic blood pressure, only the olive leaf also reduced triglycerides (Phytomed 2011;18:251-8).
Other research shows that olive extract improves cholesterol (J Nutr Health Aging 2015;19:77-86) and triglycerides and arterial stiffness (Br J Nutr 2015;114(1):75-83).
Now a new study has been published that puts all the research together. The new systematic review and meta-analysis included 12 studies.
The first thing they looked at was cholesterol. At first, when they looked at the overall numbers, it looked like olive leaf extract had no effect on total cholesterol. But when they looked more closely, they found that it significantly reduced total cholesterol in people with high blood pressure. The same was true of the harmful LDL cholesterol. The olive leaf extract reduced it significantly in people with high blood pressure. Triglycerides were significantly reduced, including in people with high blood pressure.
The results were just as promising for blood pressure. Olive leaf extract significantly reduced systolic blood pressure, including in people who actually needed it because their blood pressure was high. Though at first it seemed like it had no effect on diastolic blood pressure, once again, it did significantly lower it in people who actually had high blood pressure.
This meta-analysis put all the research together and came up with the conclusion that the little known leaf of the olive tree just may possess the power to prevent cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.
Diabetol Metab Syndr. 2022;14:151