Olives, olive oil and heart disease

Petroni A, et al. Inhibition of platelet aggregation and eicosanoid production by phenolic components of olive oil. Thromb Res 1995;78:151-160.

2-(3,4-di-hydroxyphenyl)-ethanol (DHPE) is a phenolic component of extra-virgin olive oil that has potent antioxidant activity. In the present study, preincubation of platelet-rich human plasma with DHPE inhibited ADP- and collagen-induced platelet aggregation. A partially characterized phenol-enriched extract obtained from the aqueous waste from olive oil was also a potent inhibitor of platelet aggregation.

COMMENT: There is evidence that individuals who consume a Mediterranean diet have a reduced risk of developing heart disease. Olive oil, a component of the Mediterranean diet, is believed to be one of the protective factors. Olive oil is rich in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid which has been found to inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. However, the present study demonstrates that there is at least one other compound in olive oil (and another substance in whole olives) that might prevent heart disease by a different mechanism. Therefore, it is unlikely that the purported cardioprotective effect of olive oil could be duplicated by other high-oleic-acid foods, such as the specially made high-oleic-acid sunflower oil that is currently being studied by nutrition scientists.