Olive Leaf Extract for Heart Health

Heart disease also called as cardiovascular disease is a combination of disorders associated with heart and blood vessels. They are categorized as heart attacks, stroke, high blood pressure, rheumatic heart disease and heart failure.Heart facts sheet from a cardiologists will educate patients on heart disease types, healthy cholesterol levelsbad cholesterol and furnishes tips to reduce cholesterol and maintain normal cholesterol range and lower blood pressure.  

Heart facts

Heart facts from WHO statistics reveal that an estimated 17.1 million people die every year due to heart disease(1). According to Heart foundation of Australia, heart disease is the leading cause of death among Australians. An estimated 800,000 are affected by heart problems, killing one Australian every 11 minutes(2). The above heart facts clearly indicate the prevalence of heart disease and necessitates the need for remedial measures.

The leading causes for poor heart health include faulty dietary habits, smoking, excess alcohol consumption, heredity, inadequate physical activity and sedentary lifestyle. Typical clinical indicators for risk of heart diseases include total cholesterol, bad cholesterol (LDL), triglycerides, good cholesterol (HDL) and blood pressure levels.

An individual who does not fall under the normal cholesterol range / healthy cholesterol levels and or have high blood pressure is at increased risk for heart diseases. Physician recommendations are aimed to lower blood pressure, reducecholesterol especially the bad cholesterol, and maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

How to maintain healthy cholesterol levels?

Heart facts clearly indicate that bad cholesterol is the culprit behind clogged arteries including rise in blood pressure levels. The key in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is to lower blood pressure, reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol in the blood. This can be achieved through the following:

  • Proper diet
  • Adequate exercise
  • Maintaining healthy body weight
  • Decreasing stress
  • Refrain from smoking and excessive alcohol
  • Considering natural remedies/dietary supplements to reduce bad cholesterol.
  • Periodic monitoring of blood cholesterol range.

Diet plays a predominant role in maintaining a healthy cholesterol range. It is recommended that we consume plenty of fruits and vegetables as they are rich in fiber and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients in particular, have gained immense popularity due to their remarkable disease-preventing properties. One such phytonutrient is oleuropein present in the olive leaves that has significant heart protective effects.

Oleuropein

Oleuropein is the plant chemical that is obtained from olive leaves and commonly available in a dietary supplements asolive leaf extractsOlive leaves have been used in traditional remedies across Europe and Mediterranean regions for many centuries in the form of herbal teas, powder and extracts. Olive leaf extracts have been studied by medical community for the heart protective effects of oleuropein.

Some studies supporting the positive effects of oleuropein on heart health are discussed below:

A study was designed to observe the lipid-lowering and antioxidative activities of native compounds from olive leavesamong rats fed on a cholesterol rich diet for a period of 16 weeks. The results showed that there was significant reduction in the total cholesterol, triglyceride and bad (LDL) cholesterol levels along with decrease in oxidative damage. (3)

Another study conducted in 2008 showed that olive leaf polyphenols inhibited in vitro platelet activation in healthy, non-smoking males suggesting that the phenolic compounds of olive leaves could be the cause for reduced incidence of heart disease in the Mediterranean diet. The results showed decreased platelet aggregation at increased concentration of oleuropein. Although the researchers recommended further studies, the result of the study clearly suggested the positive effect of oleuropein in lowering high blood lipid levels (4).

A research report from the Institute of Pharmacological sciences, University of Milan, Italy states that several studies have demonstrated the powerful antioxidant effect of the compound oleuropein both in vitro and in vivo. The report also states that the heart protective benefits of the Mediterranean diet that is predominant in olive oil is partially due to the presence of the phenolic compound oleuropein (5).

Growing number of research studies indicate olive leaf extracts may benefit as a complimentary therapy for heart patients to improve healthy cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure. Before consuming olive leaf extract dietary supplementsit is important to seek a doctor's advice to understand the possibility of drug interaction and other side effects. It is also important to remember that to achieve healthy cholesterol levels and  lower blood pressure it is imperative to follow ahealthy lifestyle and dietary choices along with olive leaf extract supplements.

References

1. http://www.who.int/cardiovascular_diseases/prevention_control/en/index.html

2. http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/information-for-professionals/data-and-statistics/Pages/default.aspx

3. Jemai H,et.al; Lipid-lowering and antioxidant effects of hydroxytyrosol and its triacetylated derivative recovered from olive tree leaves in cholesterol-fed rats; J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Apr 23;56(8):2630-6. Epub 2008 Apr 2.

4. Singh I, et.l; The effects of polyphenols in olive leaves on platelet function; Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2008 Feb;18(2):127-32. Epub 2007 Mar 7.

5. Visioli F, Galli C; Antiatherogenic components of olive oil; Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2001 Jan;3(1):64-67.