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Free Radic Res. 2001 Nov;35(5):619-29.

Effect of consumption of phenols from olives and extra virgin olive oil on LDL oxidizability in healthy humans.

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Division of Human Nutrition and Epidemiology, Wageningen University, Bomenweg 2, 6703 HD, Wageningen, The Netherlands.


A high intake of olive oil has been proposed as an explanation for the low incidence of coronary heart disease in Mediterranean countries, but it is unclear whether olive oil offers specific benefits beyond a low content of saturated fat. Some types of extra virgin olive oil are rich in non-polar phenols, which might be taken up by plasma LDL particles and protect these from becoming atherogenic by oxidative modification. In a pilot study we found that consumption of 47 g fortified olive oil containing 31 mg phenols significantly increased the lag time of LDL oxidation from 112 +/- 5 min before to 130 +/- 7 min 2 h after the meal. However, this study was not controlled, and in the current study we therefore investigated whether olive oil phenols increase the lag time of LDL oxidation in postprandial samples when compared with a control group. Twelve healthy men and women consumed four different olive oil supplements with a meal on four separate occasions: one similar to the supplement in the pilot study (positive control); one containing mainly non-polar olive oil phenols; one containing mainly polar olive oil phenols; and one without phenols (placebo). Lag time significantly increased 2 h after the meals with the positive control (8 +/- 2 min), the polar phenols (8 +/- 2 min), and the placebo (8 +/- 2 min), but not after the non-polar phenols (-0.4 +/- 3 min). Increases were not statistically different between supplements. These results indicate that the lag time of LDL-oxidation is increased after consumption of a meal. This increase is probably due to non-specific meal or time effects and not to phenols from olives or olive oil. Furthermore, these findings stress the need for adequate controlled studies to avoid misinterpretations of the data.

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