Olive leaves have a long history of use for health and wellbeing. They have traditionally been used to improve immune function, fight infection and relieve symptoms of the common cold. Olive leaves have been shown to contain natural active compounds called phenolics. These phenolics are also found in virgin olive oil, but in olive leaves they are at levels more than 30x higher.
Research on the health benefits of olive leaf extract has concentrated mainly on one specific polyphenolic called Oleuropein. It is the most abundant natural plant compound in olive leaves, and is often used as a quality marker for Olive Leaf Extract. Oleuropein, in synergy with the numerous other important phenolics, provides powerful free radical scavenging, antioxidant activity. Using ORAC testing, this abundant mix of phenolics are five times more powerful than the same amount of Vitamin C (1). Comvita has been a long-standing advocate of Olive Leaf Extract, supporting it as a natural and concentrated way of delivering multiple benefits, including antioxidant activity.
New research indicates that olive leaf extract can help reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors, according to a paper published in the European Journal of Nutrition (2). Comvita, Australia’s leading manufacturer of olive leaf extract, welcomed the research highlighting a natural approach to helping manage cardiovascular risk factors and overall health.
Study results demonstrated that the average blood pressure and cholesterol levels of participants were lower after six weeks of olive leaf extract intake relative to placebo treatment.
The 60 person study was a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled, cross-over trial in which pre-hypertensive participants consumed olive leaf extract or placebo daily for six weeks, and then crossed over to the other treatment arm for a further six weeks.
The authors concluded that daily consumption of olive leaf extract resulted in favourable improvements in several cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors.
Small improvements in risk factors can be significant and studies suggest that even a 2mmHg reduction in diastolic blood pressure is associated with a 6-7% reduction in CVD risk and a 10-15% reduction in stroke and heart attack (3),(4). The effect of the olive leaf extract on blood pressure may be associated with a 9-14% reduction in cardiovascular risk, making it a useful addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle.
According to study co-author Professor Ian Rowland from the University of Reading, the results are promising and support a natural approach to helping manage cardiovascular risk factors and overall health.
Cardiovascular disease is the major cause of premature death worldwide, with clear evidence that reducing risk factors like elevated blood pressure and cholesterol can help prevent this disease.
Researchers have previously shown olive leaf extract has a positive short term impact on cardiovascular risk factors (5) but this is the first research to show the beneficial effects are retained over a longer timeframe (six weeks).
Professor Ian Rowland
1. Stevenson, L., et al. Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) Report on Olive Leaf Australia’s Olive Leaf Extracts, Laboratory Report, Southern Cross University, 2005.
2. Lockyer S, et al. Impact of phenolic-rich olive leaf extract on blood pressure, plasma lipids and inflammatory markers: a randomised controlled trial. European J. of Nutrition, Mar 2016;1–12. At: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00394-016-1188-y
3. Implications of Small Reductions in Diastolic Blood Pressure for Primary Prevention. Cook N, et al. Archives of Internal Medicine, 155(7):701-709, April 1995.
4. The role of combination therapy in the management of hypertension. Neutel, J. Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, 21: 1469 – 1473, June 2006.
5. Secoiridoids delivered as olive leaf extract induce acute improvements in human vascular function and reduction of an inflammatory cytokine: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial. Lockyer S, et al. British Journal of Nutrition, 114 (01), July 2015.