Olives are a staple in a diet that has been linked to the greatest longevity among the human race–the Mediterranean diet. The fruits and leaves of the olive tree are rich in many nutrients and healthy fats that have potential in boosting brain and cardiovascular function. While both olive oil and olive leaf extract have a load of benefits, there is one key component that makes olive leaf extract a step ahead.
Olive leaf extract is abundant in oleuropein. This phytochemical has shown in preliminary studies to be a powerful antioxidant. What makes olive leaf extract so oleuropein-rich and ultimately more beneficial than olive oil? Let’s explore the differences between olive oil and olive leaf extract.
What is the Difference Between Olive Leaf Extract and Olive Oil?
The difference between olive leaf extract and olive oil comes down to their sources. As the name suggests, olive leaf extract is pressed from leaves of the olive tree. Whereas, olive oil is extracted from the fruits.
While olives get heralded for everything from being heart healthy to an aphrodisiac to dirtying up a martini just right, table olives are not the same as ones picked at harvest. They are highly processed and treated with lye. This practice strips the majority of oleuropein from the olives you buy at grocery stores.
If olives go through refinement before making olive oil, that further dilutes the oleuropein property in the olive oil as well. When you purchase olive oil, make sure it is extra virgin. Stay clear of refined or purified oils as they are usually stripped of nutritional value and filled with hydrogen.
Having to vet your olives and olive oil is reason enough to draw someone toward olive leaf extract. Organic olive leaf extract comes with a peace of mind that you’re getting pure leaf extract without any refinement. It has an extra boost of oleuropein, further enhancing the benefits of olive-based products.
What is Oleuropein?
Many of the benefits of olive oil and olive leaf extract are paralleled. The most significant difference boils down to levels of oleuropein. Research indicates that this aromatic molecule was an evolutionary development to ward off predators.
Oleuropein has a very bitter texture. It was essential for the prosperity of the plant, so the first line of defense developed an abundance of this molecule. That shield is the leaf that protects the plant from heat and predators. It’s also why table olive companies use lye. This beneficial compound does not have a pleasant flavor like the olive oil we all know and love.
Benefits of Oleuropein in Olive Leaf Extract
Due to its elevated levels of oleuropein, olive leaf extract supplies added benefits potentially greater than that of olive oil. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of olive leaf extract with oleuropein.
Significant Reduction in Blood Pressure
One study compared the use of oleuropein to ACE inhibitor, captopril. Results found that 500 mg twice daily of olive leaf extract was comparable to the medication in “lowering systolic and diastolic blood pressures in subjects with stage-1 hypertension.”
Furthermore, the research suggested, “a significant reduction of triglyceride level was observed in Olive group, but not in Captopril group.” This conclusion is a profound insight because olive oil is high in fat.
Granted, olive oil is mainly healthy fats, but if one were to overindulge, they’d come across your belly as fat nonetheless. Consequently, this excess weight would cause a rise in triglyceride levels. This difference further proves the benefits of olive leaf extract over olive oil.
Improved Heart Function
One of the byproducts of oleuropein is hydroxytyrosol. This metabolite has also shown to have potent antioxidant capabilities. That benefit makes oleuropein the gift that keeps on giving … and keeps the heart ticking.
Research shows that these two poly compounds of olive leaves are pillars in cardiovascular strength. In the studies, olive leaf extract reduced the presence of Interleukin 8 (IL-8). IL-8 is an inflammatory cytokine that forms in your cell walls. That makes it harder for blood and nutrients to pass through and circle back to the heart.
Decreases Cancerous Cell Growth
All cells in your body, good or bad, have the same objective. They want to divide and grow their population as rapidly as possible. Research suggests that both oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol may put the kibosh on the growth of cancerous cells.
Furthermore, the study suggested that these olive leaf extract compounds had a strong antagonist effect on Michigan Cancer Foundation-7 (MCF-7) cells. These are cells that act as precursors to breast cancer.
In addition, oleuropein stopped the evolution of cancer cells from the G1 phase to the S phase. During the G1 phase, the cells attempt enough protein to reach the S phase. Stopping the evolution into the S phase is pivotal because that process promotes potentially catastrophic DNA encryption.
Oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol achieved these remarkable tasks by regulating cells between the G0 and G1 phase. That means they are dormant and lack the nutrition necessary to grow.
Boost in Memory Function
If you run the risk of losing your head if it weren’t screwed on, then olive leaf extract is the supplement for you. A study was conducted to observe the effects of oleuropein on the CA1 region of the brain. The CA1 is located in the hippocampus is responsible for spatial memory and long-term recollection.
The rats in the study exhibited, “significantly improved learning and memory retention, and attenuated the oxidative damage.” Therefore, high doses of oleuropein may help repair and rejuvenate cells in the brain that may otherwise develop into Alzheimer’s disease.
Antimicrobial and Antiviral Activity
Many of us are prone to bacterial and yeast infections. These are unpleasant and in the long term may open the door to worse conditions. Luckily, oleuropein can help keep bacterial growth at bay.
One study was conducted involving 49 microbial strains associated with gastrointestinal and respiratory infections. Across the board, oleuropein inhibited the growth of these opportunistic pathogens. Some of the names on the list included salmonella and staph.
Why Olive Leaf Extract Over Olive Oil?
We’re not trying to start a fight among the olive family. It’s like having two Honor Roll students in the family. It’s just that in this case, one is also the valedictorian. While olive oil deserves honorable mention, the valedictorian is here is olive leaf extract.
Olive leaf extract can improve heart function and blood pressure. Thanks to oleuropein, olive leaf extract may inhibit cancerous cells from encrypting your DNA. Furthermore, the byproduct of oleuropein can help boost spatial and long-term memory. With its abundance of oleuropein, olive leaf extract has potent antimicrobial abilities. This well-rounded wellness makes olive leaf extract a must for all daily routines!
Do you use olive oil or olive leaf extract for benefits? What do you use it for and do you love it? Let us know in the comments below.