Extracts from olive leaves may help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure levels, according to a small human study from Israel-based supplier Frutarom.
Using identical twins with increased blood pressure, researchers report that a daily supplement of olive leaf extract (1000 mg) reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 11 and 5 mmHg, respectively, over eight weeks.
Cholesterol levels were also reduced in the twin receiving the olive leaf extract, according to findings published in the journal Phytotherapy Research.
The study used Frutarom’s EFLA943 olive leaf extract, and the company also funded the study.
In the UK alone there are an estimated 10m people with hypertension, defined as having blood pressure higher than 140/90 mmHg. In addition, high cholesterol levels, hypercholesterolaemia, have a long association with many diseases.
Both hypertension and hypercholesterolaemia are major risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD), which causes almost 50 per cent of deaths in Europe, and is reported to cost the EU economy an estimated €169bn ($202bn) per year.
According to the American Heart Association, 34.2 per cent of Americans (70.1m people) suffered from some form of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in 2002.
The researchers, led by Tania Perrinjaquet-Moccetti from Frutarom Switzerland, recruited 20 pairs of identical twins with borderline hypertension. The twins from each pair were assigned to either placebo capsules or capsules containing 500mg or 1000mg of olive leaf extract EFLA943.
By using identical twin pairs the researchers sought to eliminate some of the uncertainties caused by genetic variations between individual people.
At the end of the eight week intervention, the researchers report a significant reduction in blood pressure in the twin receiving the high-dose supplement, compared to the placebo. In twin pairs where on received the lower dose olive leaf supplement, no significant changes were observed in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, compared to their baseline levels.
A dose-dependent effect for the reduction of cholesterol levels was also observed within pairs of twins for LDL-cholesterol, but all the groups experienced reductions in cholesterol, noted the researchers.
The researchers indicated that a compound called oleuropein may be responsible for some of the benefits observed, noting that it, and other polyphenolic compounds in olive plants, can act as antioxidants and scavenge free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS).
“These antioxidative properties may not only contribute to the antihypertensive action, but were also suggested to be responsible for the hypercholesterolemic effect, referring to decreases of LDL and VLDL cholesterol,” they stated.
Co-author of the study, Cem Aydogan, general manager, Frutarom Health said that the study confirmed earlier studies in rats that olive leaf extract EFLA943 has antihypertensive properties in humans.
“This works showed that taking a 1000mg dose has substantial effects in people with borderline hypertension,” said Aydogan.
Source: Phytotherapy ResearchVolume 22, Pages 1239-1242, doi: 10.1002/ptr.2455“Food Supplementation with an Olive (Olea europaea L.) Leaf Extract Reduces Blood Pressure in Borderline Hypertensive Monozygotic Twins”Authors: T. Perrinjaquet-Moccetti, A. Busjahn, C. Schmidlin, A. Schmidt, B. Bradl, C. Aydogan