WHAT IS OLEUROPEIN?
Oleuropein is a tyrosol ester and phytonutrient (a group of chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants and have multiple health benefits but are not considered essential to human health) that is found in green olives, olive leaf and olive oil. It acts as a powerful antioxidant in the human body and may also have further health benefits. In this article I will be providing a full overview of oleuropein and discussing its possible health benefits.
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF OLEUROPEIN?
Awareness of oleuropein dates back to ancient times. Ancient Egyptians used olive leaf during mummification whilst ancient Mediterraneans used it to treat infection, fever and pain. It was isolated in the late 1800s.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF OLEUROPEIN?
Oleuropein is a powerful antioxidant that can protect the body’s cells from dangerous free radicals (harmful by-products that are released into your cells during oxygen related reactions and can lead to cancer, diabetes, a weakened immune system and premature signs of ageing).
Early studies suggest that oleuropein may also have further health benefits in humans. However, additional evidence is needed before these health benefits can be confirmed. The list below outlines these potential health benefits of oleuropein:
– Possibly acting as an antibacterial (a substance that kills or slows down the growth of bacteria).
– Possibly acting as an antifungal (a substance which treats fungal infections).
– Possibly acting as an anti-inflammatory (a substance which prevents unnecessary inflammation in the body).
– Possibly acting as an antiviral (a substance that kills or slows down the growth of viruses).
– Possibly preventing cancer.
– Possibly preventing diabetes (by reducing blood glucose levels).
– Possibly preventing heart disease (by reducing blood levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol).
– Possibly protecting against ultraviolet (UV) damage (which can damage the skin cells and cause skin cancer).
– Possibly reducing blood levels of LDL cholesterol (a type of cholesterol which can cause blockages in the arteries and increase your heart disease risk).
– Possibly reducing high blood pressure.
– Possibly strengthening the immune system.
HOW MUCH OLEUROPEIN DO YOU NEED?
Oleuropein is not classed as an essential nutrient so no official recommended daily allowance (RDA) has been established.
WHICH FOODS CONTAIN OLEUROPEIN?
Oleuropein can be sourced from olives, olive leaf and olive oil but the exact amounts they contain are not known. It can also be found in olive leaf extracts.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF CONSUMING TOO MUCH OLEUROPEIN?
Consuming natural food sources of oleuropein is believed to be safe and has no reported side effects. However, due to its potential effects on blood pressure and blood glucose, people who suffer from diabetes or high blood pressure should consult their doctor before taking any oleuropein supplements. Pregnant women are also advised to see their doctor before taking any supplements containing this tyrosol ester.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF FAILING TO CONSUME ENOUGH OLEUROPEIN?
Oleuropein is not classed as an essential nutrient so no deficiency symptoms have been established.
Like many of the tyrosol esters, there is still a lot more research to be done before the health benefits of oleuropein are fully understood. However, the early signs are very promising and suggest that this powerful phytonutrient can protect the body from numerous diseases and health conditions. Olives and olive oil compliment many different types of food. Olive oil in particular can be drizzled over meats, salads and vegetables which is a quick, convenient way to incorporate the benefits of oleuropein into your diet.