Olive oil is a pillar of the traditional Mediterranean diet, widely considered one of the healthiest in the world. The health benefits of olive oil are no secret, and most are attributable to antioxidant components found in small quantities, such as polyphenols. However, a new study highlights all the potential benefits related to its main component, oleic acid, which represents between 70 and 80 percent of its composition.
Scientists of the faculties of Pharmacy and Medicine of the University of Seville, in collaboration with professionals from the Seville North and Aljarafe Health District and the Costa del Sol Hospital, affirm that oleic acid has properties thathelp prevent cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
In Alzheimer's there is a decrease in oleic acid in neurons
According to researchers, oleic acid, which can be obtained from foods such as oil olive and can also be synthesized by the body itself, plays a very important role in the human organism. It is the most abundant monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) in the human diet and the main MUFA in the human circulatory system. In the brain, it serves as an important part of membrane phospholipids and is abundant in neuronal myelin sheaths. Doctors have observed decreased levels of oleic acid in the brains of patients diagnosed with major depressive disorders and Alzheimer's.
Previous studies have shown that oleic acid levels decrease. related to memory and cognitive function. One of them is a study published in the journal The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, where researchers administered a diet rich in oleic acid to a group of young and old mice for six weeks and tested their spatial memory ability in a water maze. The results showed that mice that consumed a high-oleic acid diet had a significant improvement in their spatial memory ability compared to mice that consumed a low-oleic acid diet.
The researchers also noted that The high-oleic acid diet increased levels of a protein called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) in the mice's hippocampus, a brain regionimportant for memory. While this study was conducted in mice and more research is needed to confirm its findings in humans, it suggests that oleic acid may have a positive effect on intellectual abilities.
It helps reduce cholesterol
Like all free fatty acids, the main function of oleic acid is to serve as an energy source and as a component of cell membranes. One of its greatest characteristics is its antioxidant properties, since it can directly regulate both the synthesis and activity of antioxidant enzymes. Another benefit is its hypocholesterolemic effect, or its ability to inhibit the expression of proteins related to cholesterol transport and absorption. There are several ways in which oleic acid can help lower cholesterol:
- Increases HDL cholesterol levels: Oleic acid increases HDL cholesterol levels ( "good" cholesterol), which helps eliminate excess LDL cholesterol from the body.
- Decreases the production of LDL cholesterol: It can decrease the production of LDL cholesterol in the liver, which reduces its buildup in the body.
- Reduces inflammation: Oleic acid has anti-inflammatory properties, which can reduce inflammation in blood vessels and prevent cholesterol buildup. LDL.
- Improves arterial elasticity: Improves arterial elasticity, which can reduce blood pressure and prevent the buildup of LDL cholesterol in the arteries.
- Promotes nutrient absorption: Oleic acid helps the absorption of nutrients, such as vitamins A, D, E and K, which are important for heart health.
Inhibits the expression of genes related to cancer
That's not all. Oleic acid is an anticancer molecule recognized thanks to its inhibitory effects on the overexpression of oncogenes and its effects on programmed cell death. Additionally, researchers generally view oleic acid as an anti-inflammatory molecule, although this topic is still under debate among scientists.
According to the scientific team, oleoylethanolamide, a derivative of oleic acid, shows signs of possessing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Some have proposed it as a powerful therapeutic agent to treat obesity, inflammation and pain, it acts as a modulator of cannabinoid receptors in the body, specifically CB1 receptors. These receptors are found throughout the body, including the brain, and play a role in regulating various functions, such as memory, eating, and mood.
Additional studies suggest that acid oleicinfluences epigenetic mechanisms (direct modifications of DNA and DNA-associated proteins) and the modulation of the immune system through the regulation of cells linked to inflammation.
In addition to olive oil, oleoylethanolamide is found in dark chocolate.
Other foods rich in oleic acid
In addition to olive oil, there are other foods rich in oleic acid :
- Avocados: are rich in oleic acid and are an excellent source of healthy fats. They can be consumed raw in guacamole or in salads.
- Nuts: walnuts, peanuts, almonds and other nuts are rich in oleic acid. They can be consumed alone as a snack or added to salads and other dishes. When possible, choose untoasted and unsalted presentations.