Virgin olive oil and a Mediterranean diet fight heart disease by changing how our genes function

Jun 30, 2010

Everyone knows olive oil and a Mediterranean diet are associated with a lower risk for cardiovascular disease, but a new research report published in the July 2010 print issue of the FASEB Journal offers a surprising reason why: These foods change how genes associated with atherosclerosis function.

"Knowing which genes can be modulated by diet in a healthy way can help people select healthy diets," said Maria Isabel Covas, D.Pharm., Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the and Nutrition Research Group at the Institut Municipal d'Investigacio Medica in Barcelona, Spain. "It is also a first step for future nutritional therapies with selected foods."

Scientists worked with three groups of healthy volunteers. The first group consumed a traditional Mediterranean diet with virgin olive oil rich in polyphenols. The second group consumed a traditional Mediterranean diet with an olive oil low in polyphenols. The third group followed their habitual diet. After three months, the first group had a down-regulation in the expression of atherosclerosis-related genes in their peripheral blood mononuclear cells.

Additionally, the olive oil polyphenols made a significant impact on the expression of influencing . Results also showed that the consumption of virgin olive oil in conjunction with a Mediterranean diet can positively impact lipid and DNA oxidation, , inflammation, carcinogenesis, and tumor suppression.

"This study is ground breaking because it shows that olive oil and a Mediterranean diet affect our bodies in a far more significant way than previously believed," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the . "Not only does this research offer more support for encouraging people to change their eating habits, it is an important first step toward identifying drug targets that affect how our genes express themselves."

Explore further: First vital step in fertilization between sperm and egg discovered

More information: Valentini Konstantinidou, Maria-Isabel Covas, Daniel Muñoz-Aguayo, Olha Khymenets, Rafael de la Torre, Guillermo Saez, Maria del Carmen Tormos, Estefania Toledo, Amelia Marti, Valentina Ruiz-Gutiérrez, Maria Victoria Ruiz Mendez, and Montserrat Fito. In vivo nutrigenomic effects of virgin olive oil polyphenols within the frame of the Mediterranean diet: a randomized controlled trial. FASEB J. 2010 24: 2546-2557; doi: 10.1096/fj.09-148452

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Women who consume olive oil preserve their bone mass better

Feb 18, 2009

A study from the Harokopio University of Athens (Greece) determines that adherence to a dietary pattern close to the Mediterranean diet, with high consumption of fish and olive oil and low red meat intake, has a significant ...

Recommended for you

Researchers transplant regenerated oesophagus

Apr 15, 2014

Tissue engineering has been used to construct natural oesophagi, which in combination with bone marrow stem cells have been safely and effectively transplanted in rats. The study, published in Nature Communications, shows ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

HIV+ women respond well to HPV vaccine

HIV-positive women respond well to a vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV), even when their immune system is struggling, according to newly published results of an international clinical trial. The study's findings ...

Revealing camouflaged bacteria

A research team at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel has discovered an protein family that plays a central role in the fight against the bacterial pathogen Salmonella within the cells. The so cal ...