From tree to health: uncovering the benefits of olives, olive leaf and olive oil

July 25th, 2023

Delve into the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, centering on olives and extra virgin olive oil. Uncover the positive effects of oleuropein, particularly for women during and after menopause, providing natural support for overall well-being.

From tree to health support uncovering the benefits of olives, olive leaf and olive oil

The Mediterranean diet has gained widespread recognition as one of the healthiest diets globally, known for its ability to prevent diseases like heart disease and cancer.

Key components of this diet include olives and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), which are celebrated for their health benefits.

In this article, we will delve into the composition of olives and EVOO, exploring the various health benefits associated with their consumption. Moreover, we will focus on their potential advantages for women facing post-menopausal concerns, shedding light on the natural alternatives available to alleviate their symptoms.

Olives and extra virgin olive oil: Pillars of Mediterranean health

The Mediterranean diet revolves around plant-based foods, whole grains, nuts, herbs, and spices. It encourages moderate consumption of fish, seafood, and poultry, while red meat and sugar are consumed infrequently. The main source of added fat in this diet is EVOO, which stands out for its numerous health benefits (1).

Composition of extra virgin olive oil

EVOO is derived from freshly cold-pressed olives, the fruits of the olive tree (Olea europaea). This process ensures that the beneficial components of EVOO, known as biophenols, are preserved.

The primary fatty acids in EVOO are monounsaturates, particularly oleic acid, which constitutes 55-80% of the total fatty acid content. The remaining portion consists of small amounts of saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Beyond the fatty acids, EVOO contains various minor components such as antioxidants, including carotenoids, α-tocopherol, and phenol compounds. Among these phenols, the main ones found in EVOO are hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol, and oleuropein. Oleuropein, in particular, is present in olives, olive leaves, and olive oil, making oleuropein a key player in the health benefits associated with these products.

Oleuropein: a compound from olives and olive leaves with outstanding health benefits

Oleuropein, a compound with remarkable health benefits, has been extensively studied for its potential in preventing various disorders. As an antioxidant, it effectively combats harmful compounds in the body, reducing the risk of heart problems, cancer, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, and premenstrual syndrome, among others. Studies have demonstrated its ability to protect cells from oxidative damage, reducing the risk of chronic diseases and contributing to the prevention of inflammatory conditions (2, 3).

Furthermore, the cardiovascular benefits of oleuropein are noteworthy, as it supports heart health by reducing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and lowering blood pressure. These effects, in combination with its antioxidant properties, contribute to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis.

Interestingly, while oleuropein is present in olive oil and olives, you might be surprised to learn that olive leaves contain even higher levels of this beneficial compound. This makes olive leaves a great source for obtaining oleuropein and reaping its healthful advantages (4).

An example of an olive leaf extract that has high levels of oleuropein is Bonolive®.

Women’s health: how can it benefit from olives?

Postmenopausal women often experience symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, and mood swings. The global population of postmenopausal women has grown significantly, leading to increased research on natural alternatives to alleviate these symptoms (5).

Oleuropein’s ability to lower blood pressure may be beneficial for women with hypertension during menopause. High blood pressure is a common concern during this stage of life, and the consumption of EVOO as part of the Mediterranean diet could help manage this condition naturally (6).

Oleuropein’s antioxidant properties are also relevant to women’s health. Oxidative stress is a contributing factor to the development of various diseases, and antioxidants like oleuropein help counteract this stress, promoting overall well-being.

Recent studies have also shown that oleuropein has positive effects on bone health, which further enhances its impact on women’s health, especially during and after menopause.

Osteoporosis, a condition characterized by reduced bone density and an increased risk of fractures, is a significant concern for postmenopausal women due to hormonal changes and declining estrogen levels. The anti-inflammatory properties of oleuropein play a crucial role in reducing bone loss and inflammation, helping to maintain bone strength and integrity.

By including the Mediterranean diet with its oleuropein-rich olives and EVOO, women can potentially safeguard their bone health and mitigate the risks associated with osteoporosis. This contributes to an overall improvement in their well-being during the post-menopausal stage.

Oleuropein and women’s health: the benefits of olives and olive leaf

The Mediterranean diet, which includes olives and extra virgin olive oil, offers many health benefits, thanks to oleuropein: a compound that helps prevent diseases and promotes overall well-being, especially in women post-menopause.

For those who may have limited olives or olive oil in their regular diet, supplements containing high levels of oleuropein might be beneficial. Bonolive®, an ingredient by BioActor, is high in oleuropein content and has been extensively studied.

To read more about these studies, download our white paper below.