Part of the reason that the Mediterranean diet is so good for your heart is because of the abundance of olives and olive oil in the diet. What is little discussed, though, is that the olive leaves are actually much higher in the phenolic constituents that give it its value.

So, researchers set out to see what the immediate benefit of olive leaf extract might be on the heart by testing its effect on blood vessels function and inflammation in a double-blind study. . . .

The study gave 18 people a single dose of either 1,600mg of olive leaf extract or a placebo. The olive leaf extract contained a total of 51.12mg oleuropein and 9.67mg hydroxytyrosol.

Eight hours after taking the herb or the placebo, vascular function, as measured by arterial stiffness, was significantly improved in the olive leaf group compared to the placebo group. The inflammatory cytokine interleukin-8 was also significantly lower in the olive leaf group.

The researchers concluded that an acute dose of olive leaf extract improves vascular function and reduces inflammation.

Though the authors say that this study is the fist to provide evidence that olive leaf extract improves vascular function, it is not the first to provide evidence that olive leaf extract is beneficial for cardiovascular health.

An earlier study demonstrated that olive leaf extract is good for your bones while improving total cholesterol, the heart damaging LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

A double-blind study also found the herb to reduce high blood pressure as well as captopril, but to be superior because it reduces cholesterol and triglycerides significantly better than the drug (Phytomed 2011 15;18(4):251-8).

 Br J Nutr 2015;114(1):75-83

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