Numerous scientific evidence and clinical studies have demonstrated the beneficial role of the Mediterranean diet, in which extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) takes a prominent place in combating the onset of non-communicable chronic-degenerative diseases such as diabetes mellitus, arterial hypertension, metabolic syndrome, neoplastic diseases, diseases affecting the nervous system, chronic kidney disease, and in increasing longevity. Daily consumption of EVOO as the main condiment reduces cardiovascular risk, improves carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, aids in controlling blood pressure, and reduces inflammatory status and oxidative stress—factors implicated in the aging process.
A recent in vitro study conducted at the University of Rome Tor Vergata evaluated the pro-apoptotic and antiproliferative capacity of olive leaf extracts using the “Incucye S3 Live-Cell Analysis System” (Incucyte), a tool that allows real-time analysis of cellular behavior. The study confirmed the potential anti-tumor action exerted by minor polar compounds (CMP) of EVOO, even on this cell line not previously studied in the literature. Another ongoing study, conducted by the team coordinated by Annalisa Noce at the Tor Vergata polyclinic, is assessing the effects of combining personalized Mediterranean diet with the intake of a special medical food based on a microcomposite of palmitoylethanolamide-rutin and hydroxytyrosol (a derivative of olive oil) in a population of patients with metabolic syndrome.
“Preliminary data highlight the beneficial effect of the tested special medical food, in association with a personalized Mediterranean diet, as well as the absence of side effects,” explains Noce. “These data are supported by the trend of reducing total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides, a significant reduction in C-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), both inflammatory indicators, and a significant reduction in body weight, body mass index, percentage of body fat, and waist circumference compared to the parameters obtained during the placebo intake period. In combination with a correct lifestyle—characterized by a healthy diet and regular physical activity—it seems possible to counteract the onset and progression of non-communicable chronic-degenerative diseases.”
The Mediterranean diet has been recognized as intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO since 2010 and is the nutritional model now widely spread globally, typical of the entire Mediterranean basin, with numerous health benefits. “Specifically, the Mediterranean diet is characterized by abundant consumption of plant-based foods such as fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, moderate consumption of fish and white meats, and the use of EVOO as the main source of vegetable fats,” says Noce.
“EVOO is therefore a cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet and is rich in bioactive natural compounds with numerous beneficial properties. In addition to containing monounsaturated fatty acids, it is known for its content of CMP, attributed to its health-promoting properties. Among these are tyrosol, hydroxytyrosol, oleuropein, oleocanthal, and oleacein with important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties,” she concludes.