More good news regarding the health benefits of olive oil: A recent Spanish study found that antioxidant polyphenols present in olive oil could change the way our genes respond to high-density cholesterol (HDL).
HDL cholesterol, known as “good cholesterol,” helps remove cholesterol from the artery walls and carry it back to the liver, where it can be processed or eliminated. People with high HDL cholesterol levels seem to have fewer heart problems (and vice versa). Previous research has shown that oleic acid (the monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid found in olive oil) can raise HDL levels.
In this study, participants were divided into two groups: One that received 2 tablespoons of regular olive oil (moderate polyphenol content) and one that received 2 tablespoons of high-polyphenol content olive oil.
- The high-polyphenol olive oil group showed significantly increased response in genes related to cholesterol efflux, a measure of how efficiently HDL removes cholesterol from artery walls
The bottom line seems to be that olive oil benefits the way the body clears cholesterol from the arteries, and this is likely a result of polyphenols’ effect on genes.