Who wouldn’t want to not only add years onto their life…but quality years? To do that, we must turn our heads to the area of the world where people seem to live the longest. The life expectancy is higher in areas near the Mediterranean. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that those who consume a Mediterranean diet tend to live longer.
One of the biggest staples in the Mediterranean diet are olives. The oil derived from olives is rich in a chemical compound called oleuropein. Many studies show that oleuropein is the source behind the longevity of those on the Mediterranean coast.
So what is this miracle chemical, and do you need to run out and get some bread to dip in your olive oil? Perhaps, but maybe hold off on the bread for now. Follow on as we go over exactly what is oleuropein and how it may be beneficial for you. Also, we will explain why taking supplements containing oleuropein might be the right choice for you over partaking in a carb-loaded bread-fest.
Now, let’s explore the secret to longevity.
Mediterranean Diet: The Key to Longevity
In a list of the longest life expectancies, Monaco topped the list with a mean age of 89.4 years. Monaco is situated on France’s Mediterranean coastline. Therefore, the people of Monaco are inundated with ripe olives, omega-rich fresh fish, nutrient-packed fruits and veggies, and vitamin-laden nuts and seeds.
Other countries on the list of longer life expectancies that have a heavy Mediterranean-diet influence include:
- San Marino (#5) – 83.3 years
- Andorra (#8) – 82.9 years
- Guernsey (#9) – 82.6 years
- Israel (#12) – 82.5 years
- Italy (#15) – 82.3 years
A balanced diet in foods that are bountiful in the Mediterranean region is great for your health. However, you might want to make sure you have a little extra olive oil (or olive leaf extract) above all else. That’s because the chemical running the longevity ship is the olive leaf’s own, oleuropein.
What is Oleuropein?
You keep hearing all about this oleuropein, and you’re probably wondering what on earth we are talking about. Oleuropein is a phenolic compound that is most widely present in olive leaves.
There have been many studies conducted not just on oleuropein, but specifically on the polyphenols that are derived from olive leaves. From cardiovascular health to strengthening the kidney to combating Alzheimer’s disease, these tiny chemicals pack a positive punch to the system. Let’s take a look at the many benefits of olive leaf-derived oleuropein.
Oleuropein Fights off Precancerous Growths
At one point in our lives we will lose one, if not many, loved ones to cancer. What makes cancer such a scary disease is its unpredictability. In some cases, cancer cells can duplicate at a very rapid pace. Others take their time to silently spread.
Whatever the nature of these cancer cells are, their intentions are to grow. Oleuropein is effective in fighting off that growth. In fact, one study found that the compounds in olive leaf extract killed bone cancer cells and prevented the cells from multiplying.
Another study found that oleuropein stopped cancer cells from their natural process of replicating and spreading out into other areas of the body.
Oleuropein Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Studies have confirmed that oleuropein also has anti-inflammatory abilities. One study in particular involved eye pressure on rabbits. When the rabbits were fed a diet high in olive leaf extract, pressure on the eye during surgery was significantly decreased.
Oleuropein May Help Kidney Disease
Other studies involving oleuropein have found that its anti-inflammatory properties also help those with kidney issues. As the liver breaks down proteins from our diet, it produces waste called urea. This is what our kidneys need to sift through and expel from our system. If the kidneys are in poor condition, this may cause a serious issue for the body.
Due to its genetic makeup, oleuropein naturally lowers creatinine and blood urea nitrogen levels. That makes it easier for the body to pass the waste and creates less of a buildup in the system. Additionally, oleuropein restores kidney cells and works as an anti-inflammatory. Therefore, it helps the kidneys thrive in all areas!
Oleuropein Regulates Blood Pressure
Another amazing benefit of oleuropein is its ability to bring homeostasis to the system. Studies have found that oleuropein has a significant impact on lowering systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The study states that olive leaf extract “intake engenders hypotensive and lipid-lowering effects.”
The “lipid-lowering effects” denoted in the above-mentioned study is in reference to LDL cholesterol. This is the bad cholesterol that when in high doses leads to cardiovascular issues and high blood pressure.
Olive leaf extract is high in HDL cholesterol. This is the good cholesterol necessary to keep the bad cholesterol in check. In turn, this helps keep the arteries free of debris and clog so blood can flow freely throughout the body. That’s how oleuropein regulates blood pressure.
Oleuropein Helps Fight Cardiovascular Disease
You can’t really speak about high blood pressure and bad cholesterol without bringing up cardiovascular disease. Heart disease is the number one killer across the world. That’s because a lifetime of poor dietary choices such as fried and processed foods, candies with artificial ingredients, and fatty animal meats and dairy has led to buildups in the arteries.
Just as issues arise with high blood pressure, when red oxygenated blood cells can’t make their rounds, problems with the heart arise too. The heart needs to pump blood out into the system, but it also needs blood to come back to it. Otherwise, what would it pump?
When this process gets disrupted, cardiovascular disease sets in. The heart is a muscle. When it is not being stimulated or worked out, it gets weak.
Additionally, heart disease also stems from oxidative stress caused by stagnant and dying cells. Studies have found that oleuropein in olive leaf extract can actually prevent the death of heart cells.
Oleuropein Boosts Brain Health
While living a longer life is great, the quality matters as well. What’s the point of making it to 90 if you don’t have all of your mental faculties in place?
One of the biggest culprits of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are abnormal proteins in the brain. Over time, proteins can become misfolded and lost in areas of the brain. As they deteriorate, they cause inflammations and degeneration.
As we know, oleuropein is an anti-inflammatory, which can help bust up that brain swell. On top of warding off the proteins, oleuropein also reduces the toxicity and tissue damage that comes with injured or dying cells in the brain.
More studies with rats and oleuropein found that the chemical also improved their brain function. Therefore, olive leaf extract may be a viable preventative and therapeutic form of treatment.
Oleuropein as a Supplement
Now that you know the secret of longevity, it’s important to remember that you don’t need to drown everything you eat in olive oil! However, you can still get the benefits 24/7.
By taking an all-natural supplement of olive leaf extract with 20% oleuropein, it can help you strengthen organs, fight off heart disease and cancer, as well as give your brain a pick-me-up. It’s a no-brainer for anyone in life for the long haul.
What’s your favorite Mediterranean dish? Share below!