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Cardiovascular disease is facilitated by chronic oxidative stress and vascular inflammation. Antioxidant compounds such as the polyphenols found in olive oil may reduce cardiovascular disease risk by resolving oxidative stress and inflammation. Findings of a recent report demonstrate the ability of high-polyphenol olive oil to reduce oxidative stress, especially in adults at high risk for cardiometabolic diseases.

Oxidative compounds in the bloodstream damage the cells that line blood vessels, called endothelial cells. Increased concentrations of adhesion molecules, proinflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein, and oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol contribute to endothelial dysfunction and the generation of atherosclerotic plaques. Increased concentrations of antioxidant enzymes in the blood decrease oxidative damage and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease.

The authors recruited 50 participants (between ages 18 and 75 years) who were not consuming dietary supplements or high amounts of olive oil (greater than one tablespoon per day). They assigned participants to consume about four tablespoons per day of either high-polyphenol or low-polyphenol olive oil for three weeks. After a two-week wash-out period, participants consumed the opposite treatment for three weeks. The researchers measured total antioxidant capacity and plasma concentrations of oxidized LDL cholesterol and C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) before and after each treatment.

High-polyphenol olive oil consumption significantly reduced oxidized LDL cholesterol and increased total antioxidant capacity. These changes were greatest in participants who were at high risk for cardiometabolic disease due to their high waist circumference. There were no significant statistical differences between the high-polyphenol and low-polyphenol olive oil treatments.

Consumption of high-polyphenol olive oil increased antioxidant capacity and reduced markers of inflammation and oxidative stress, especially in participants with high cardiometabolic risk.

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