Active-Italia: Oleocanthal, a Phenolic Derived from Virgin Olive Oil: A Review of the Beneficial Effects on Inflammatory Disease

Oleocanthal, a Phenolic Derived from Virgin Olive Oil: A Review of the Beneficial Effects on Inflammatory Disease

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Virgin olive oil (VOO) is credited as being one of many healthful components of the Mediterranean diet. Mediterranean populations experience reduced incidence of chronic inflammatory disease states and VOO is readily consumed as part of an everyday dietary pattern. A phenolic compound contained in VOO, named oleocanthal, shares unique perceptual and anti-inflammatory characteristics with Ibuprofen. Over recent years oleocanthal has become a compound of interest in the search for naturally occurring compounds with pharmacological qualities. Subsequent to its discovery and identification, oleocanthal has been reported to exhibit various modes of action in reducing inflammatory related disease, including joint-degenerative disease, neuro-degenerative disease and specific cancers. Therefore, it is postulated that long term consumption of VOO containing oleocanthal may contribute to the health benefits associated with the Mediterranean dietary pattern.

The following paper summarizes the current literature on oleocanthal, in terms of its sensory and pharmacological properties, and also discusses the beneficial, health promoting activities of oleocanthal, in the context of the molecular mechanisms within various models of disease.

The health promoting attributes associated with following a traditional Mediterranean diet have been recognised for decades, with the first suggestion of healthful effects accompanying the Seven Countries Study. The risk of chronic inflammatory disease in Mediterranean populations are the lowest in the world, and life expectancy amongst the highest which has earned the populations residing along the Mediterranean sea considerable attention from nutrition researchers worldwide. Since the inaugural Seven Countries Study numerous other studies have supported the view that this pattern of eating is associated with a reduced incidence of inflammatory disease states. […]

The results of the study clearly show that oleocanthal inhibits cyclooxygenase 1 and 2 (COX 1 & 2) enzymes in a dose-dependent manner, and does in fact mimic the anti-inflammatory action of the synthetic NSAID ibuprofen. The important and novel findings of Beauchamp and colleagues demonstrate that oleocanthal not only mimics the mode of ibuprofen inflammatory activity, but inhibits COX 1 and COX 2 enzymes significantly more at equimolar concentrations. For example, oleocanthal (25 µM) inhibits 41%–57% of COX activity in comparison to ibuprofen (25 µM) which inhibits 13%–18% of COX activity. This adds further weight to oleocanthal as a potential factor in the health benefits associated with a traditional Mediterranean Diet. Assuming approximately 70% absorption, then 50 mL/day corresponds to approximately 10% the current Ibuprofen pain relieving dose. This estimate differs according to oleocanthal concentrations in VOO. […]

A recent cross sectional Australian study concluded that those suffering neurodegenerative disease showed a significantly lower adherence to a Mediterranean style dietary pattern, and there is a plethora of evidence research showing up to a 40% decrease in Alzheimer’s disease in populations consuming a Mediterranean style diet. Perhaps oleocanthal, in conjunction with other phenolics, exerts a neuro-therapeutic potential that is reflected in the low incidence of neurodegenerative disease in populations that regularly consume the oil. […]

Source of the Article

Lisa Parkinson and Russell Keast

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