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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Sep 16;105(37):13811-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0807500105. Epub 2008 Sep 4.

Oleic acid content is responsible for the reduction in blood pressure induced by olive oil.

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Laboratory of Molecular Cell Biomedicine, Department of Biology, Institut Universitari d'Investigacions en Ciències de la Salut, University of the Balearic Islands, Carretera de Valldemossa Km 7.5, E-07122 Palma de Mallorca, Spain.


Numerous studies have shown that high olive oil intake reduces blood pressure (BP). These positive effects of olive oil have frequently been ascribed to its minor components, such as alpha-tocopherol, polyphenols, and other phenolic compounds that are not present in other oils. However, in this study we demonstrate that the hypotensive effect of olive oil is caused by its high oleic acid (OA) content (approximately 70-80%). We propose that olive oil intake increases OA levels in membranes, which regulates membrane lipid structure (H(II) phase propensity) in such a way as to control G protein-mediated signaling, causing a reduction in BP. This effect is in part caused by its regulatory action on G protein-associated cascades that regulate adenylyl cyclase and phospholipase C. In turn, the OA analogues, elaidic and stearic acids, had no hypotensive activity, indicating that the molecular mechanisms that link membrane lipid structure and BP regulation are very specific. Similarly, soybean oil (with low OA content) did not reduce BP. This study demonstrates that olive oil induces its hypotensive effects through the action of OA.

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