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Unfortunately, most lye-cured olives have been sapped of a sizable portion of their nutrients by the time they get anywhere near your table, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still reap the health benefits of this ancient fruit.
Olive leaf extract can bypass the processing, and even better, it’s naturally flush with polyphenolic compounds shown to improve various aspects of health in research.
One compound in particular has perked up the ears of health-savvy consumers and researchers alike, but before we take a tour of its potential health benefits, it’s time to address the elephant in the room.
Why Not Just Take Olive Oil?
There’s little doubt that olive oil is super healthy in its least processed form (extra-virgin), and the phytochemical profile of olive oil is indeed similar to olive leaf extract.
However, olive leaf extract generally has a higher concentration of oleuropein, a polyphenolic compound that has especially potent and far-reaching wellness benefits.
Olive Leaf in the Research
Researchers have successfully attributed a broad range of health benefits to oleuropein in various studies.
A randomized control trial conducted by the University of Auckland in New Zealand found that olive leaf extract may decrease the severity of upper respiratory illness episodes among high school athletes, who suffer from these disturbances (asthma, bronchitis, etc.) more frequently than pro-level athletes.
The two-month trial assessed the effectiveness of oleuropein on the experimental group (20g olive leaf extract per day) using a series of questionnaires that asked about training load, upper respiratory illness history, daily incidents (soreness, respiratory health, etc.), and more.
Looking back at reported data, the authors concluded that “OLE (olive leaf extract) had no significant effect on incidence but significantly reduced the number of sick days by 28%.”
The authors also went on to note that some of the athletes were deficient in certain immunity-supporting carbohydrates, implying that OLE would have been even more effective if the collective nutritional state of the participants was improved.
Either way, olive leaf extract appears to lessen the severity and duration of upper respiratory illness episodes in this population.
Blood Pressure Regulation
Of particular importance to the modern healthcare environment is the potential of oleuropein to promote healthy blood pressure levels under certain circumstances.
In this experiment from the University of Belgrade in Serbia, rats with high blood pressure were divided into three groups and administered olive leaf extract at dosage levels of 5mg/kg, 25mg/kg, and 50mg/kg.
The experimenters were focusing on the effect of olive leaf extract on blood pressure in renal (kidney) and carotid arteries, as high blood pressure in these blood vessels is correlated with a wealth of potentially serious kidney, brain, and other issues.
After the experiment had run its course, the authors stated that “Medium dose, 25 mg/kg, was revealed as the most effective in reducing cardiovascular risks by improving systemic and regional haemodynamics, oxidative stress and lipid profile.”
In other words, the middle dose showed the most potent and well-balanced effects when it came to regulating blood pressure, balancing fats in the bloodstream, and counteracting stressors that could harm blood vessels.
Indiscriminate use of alcohol is not the only pathway to liver disease, as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) can develop from a series of genetic and environmental risk factors as well.
Obesity, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and many other factors are included in this list, which is admittedly poorly understood by the modern research establishment.
However, it has been determined with confidence that olive leaf extract can ameliorate many of the issues contributing to NAFLD and some other liver pathologies.
This study by the Francesco Balsano Foundation of Rome explains how oleuropein demonstrated “hepatoprotective (hepato- meaning liver) and therapeutic effects on carbon tetrachloride-induced liver damage in mice,” and how an oleuropein-rich diet “reduces induced hepatic steatosis and progression to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.”
Hepatic steatosis being the medical term for fatty liver, these findings provide a very strong nod for olive leaf extract as a trusty sidekick for your liver.
Olive leaf extract appears to have the ability to fight obesity on a deeper level than initially suspected, according to this study from Chaon Corporation in Seongnam, South Korea.
In this case, experimenters separated mice into several groups according to the diets they would receive over the next twelve weeks, one of which was the “high-fat diet with olive leaf extract (150mg/kg).”
After the twelve weeks had passed, experimenters observed that “OLE (olive leaf extract) significantly ameliorated increases in body weight, visceral fat, and serum lipid levels in HFD (high-fat diet) mice.”
Here’s where it really got interesting: “Furthermore, OLE showed anti-obesity effects by regulating the expression of molecules involved in adipogenesis and thermogenesis in the adipose tissue.”
This means that olive leaf was actually able to “retrain” fat-producing molecules by changing the way that they are structured by our genes, in this case for the purpose of preventing excess fat storage.
How to Get More (or Any) Olive Leaf
As mentioned, extra-virgin olive oil is easier to find, and will confer many of the same health benefits as an olive leaf extract, but the best way to get an oleuropein boost is with a top-tier extract.
Not sure where to even begin looking for olive leaf extract (as opposed to standard olive oil)?
We don’t blame you—thankfully, we have a stellar supplement to recommend for anyone interested in hijacking the ancient healing properties of oleuropein.
Nature’s Way Olive Leaf 20% Oleuropein capsules are an excellent way to safely access all the health-boosting phytochemicals of the olive with a powerful “shot” of oleuropein at the same time.
Each gluten-free, vegetarian capsule contains a generous 50mg of oleuropein as part of a 250mg serving of olive leaf extract.
The capsules are plant-derived, and this product has undergone rigorous testing in the USA.
There’s a reason this food has been cultivated and consumed for six millennia and counting, and now, you can access its wellness-promoting compounds like never before.