June 2, 2020

Protective effects of phenolic compounds

Healthy mind and body, Olive Oil

Phenolic compounds are one of the groups of micronutrients present in the plant kingdom and they play an important role in the human diet and the animal diet alike. The interest in them stems from their antioxidant properties and their possible benefits to health, such as in the treatment and prevention of cancer, cardiovascular disease and other inflammatory diseases.


Dozens of phenolic compounds have been identified in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), each with its own unique health benefits. Some of the most important benefits of these compounds are their high bioavailability and the following key properties:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antibacterial
  • Antiviral

Viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi and other infectious agents cause diseases. Once an infection has been caught, the body depends on the immune system to fight it off using a series of cellular, inflammatory and immune reactions. Obviously, there are medicines to treat an infection, but natural food sources such as EVOO also help prevent and treat one.

Early in vitro studies have revealed that various polyphenols in olive oil have antibacterial properties that fight human pathogens, particularly oleuropein, tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol.

The phenolic compound oleocanthal has been shown to inhibit the growth of the Helicobacter pylori bacterium, which is associated with peptic ulcers and the onset of gastric cancer in humans. Why not offer the same to our canine friends?

Hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein (phenolic compounds also present in virgin olive oil) have also been shown to have dose-dependent antiviral activity. They inhibit the main viral fusion protein in the target cells of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). What’s more, hydroxytyrosol disrupts the influenza virus and oleuropein has anti-hepatitis B activity. These fatty acids play a role in the modulation of the immune system and inflammatory processes.

Likewise, there are numerous references to the anti-inflammatory benefits of oleocanthal for preventing and treating various health conditions, as we have seen in previous articles.

Intestinal protection

Researchers have recently started to understand the role of gut flora in the overall health of the immune system. Therefore, protection against the growth of certain microorganisms can help with the treatment of some infectious diseases.

A study published in 2016 in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that changes in gut microbes have immunostimulatory effects. The authors conclude that “the consumption of a Mediterranean diet restore the population of the Bacteroides B. thetaiotaomicron and F. prausnitzii, suggesting that this diet could increase or maintain gut flora with anti-inflammatory capacity”.


Overall, the results of the studies, both in vitro and in vivo, show that virgin olive oil is beneficial for various infectious diseases. Best of all, it’s a natural food source that is available to everyone and has no side effects.



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