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Triterpene-Enriched Olive Oil Supports Antioxidant Defenses

6/11/2019 1:19:19 PM
olive oilOlive oil contains numerous bioactive compounds that exert antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, including monounsaturated oleic acid and phenolic compounds (e.g., oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol). Although present in lower concentrations, triterpenic acids (e.g., oleanolic acid and maslinic acid) have also demonstrated antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Previously studied only in cellular and animal models, the health benefits of olive oil triterpenes were first evaluated in humans in the NUTRAOLEUM study.

Study compares olive oil formulations

The NUTRAOLEUM study compared the effects of 3 different virgin olive oils on oxidative and inflammatory biomarkers in healthy adults. The first olive oil was virgin olive oil (VOO) that had been washed to eliminate most of the phenolic compounds and triterpenes. The second olive oil (called optimized VOO) was optimized to be high in phenolic compounds (490 ppm of phenolic compounds). The third olive oil (called functional VOO) had the same concentration of phenolic compounds as the optimized VOO but was also enriched with triterpenes (389 ppm).

Fifty-three healthy adults participated in this randomized, crossover, double-blind study. Participants received a daily dose of 30 mL of olive oil for 3 weeks, with a 2-week washout period before crossover. Subjects were instructed to take the olive oil in place of other raw fats during the intervention. Primary outcome measures were markers of oxidative stress (urinary 15-F2t-isoprostane and 8-hydroxy-2’-deoxyguanosine [8-OHDG]) and markers of inflammation (interleukin-8 [IL-8] and tumor necrosis factor-alpha [TNF-alpha]).

Results show antioxidant, anti-inflammatory benefits

Results showed that urinary 8-OHdG levels tended to be lower after the intervention with the functional VOO (enriched with triterpenes) than with the other olive oils. The decrease in urinary 8-OHdG from pre-intervention to post-intervention was significantly greater with the functional VOO than with the optimized VOO (p=.033). Also, IL-8 and TNF-alpha levels were significantly lower after the intervention with the functional VOO than with the other oils (p<.05). Urinary 15-F2t-isoprostane was unchanged by any of the interventions.      
Secondary outcome measurements showed that plasma unsaturated oleic acid increased after 3 weeks of intervention with all 3 olive oils, indicating good adherence to the protocol. Analyses of antioxidant defense systems (retinol, tocopherols, coenzyme Q9, coenzyme Q10, and carotene) remained unchanged, indicating that the observed improvements in oxidative status resulted from compounds in the olive oils rather than from other dietary changes.
This study showed that a functional olive oil, enriched with triterpenes, supported antioxidant and anti-inflammatory defense mechanisms when taken for 3 weeks. The authors of the study proposed that additional benefits might be detected if future studies evaluate these oils for a longer duration of time.
Sanchez-Rodriguez E, Biel-Glesson S, Fernandez-Navarro JR et al. Effects of Virgin Olive Oils Differing in Their Bioactive Compound Contents on Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress and Inflammation in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Double-Blind Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2019; 11.
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