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: Diet affects men's and women's gut microbes differently

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

Diet affects men's and women's gut microbes differently

55 minutes ago

The microbes living in the guts of males and females react differently to diet, even when the diets are identical, according to a study by scientists from The University of Texas at Austin and six other institutions published ...

Researchers explore what happens when heart cells fail

2 hours ago

Through a grant from the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation, Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor Naomi Chesler will embark upon a new collaborative research project to better understand ...

Stem cells from nerves form teeth

4 hours ago

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have discovered that stem cells inside the soft tissues of the tooth come from an unexpected source, namely nerves. These findings are now being published in the journal Nature and co ...

User comments : 0