‘Olive oil offers best protection from heart attack’

April 2nd, 2009 - 12:32 pm ICT by IANS  

London, April 2 (IANS) Portuguese scientists have identified an anti-oxidant in olive oil that offers the greatest protection from heart attack and stroke.
Their study shows that the anti-oxidant in question, DHPEA-EDA, protects red blood cells from damage more than any other part of olive oil.

“These findings provide the scientific basis for the clear health benefits that have been seen in people who have olive oil in their diet,” said Fatima Paiva-Martins of the University of Porto, who was part of the team that conducted the study.

Paiva-Martins said the findings could lead to the production of “functional” olive oils specifically designed to reduce the risk of heart disease.

The researchers said they have come by evidence that this compound is the major source of the health benefit associated with virgin olive oils, which may make up as much as half the total antioxidant component of the oil.

Heart disease is caused partly by reactive oxygen, including free radicals, acting on low density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol and resulting in hardening of the arteries. Red blood cells are vulnerable to oxidative damage because they are the body’s oxygen carriers.

The study was published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.

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