The leaves of the olive tree are a valuable source of potent antioxidants that have powerful free radical scavenging properties and may help to support immunity and maintain cardiovascular health.
Powerful antioxidant activity
Olive leaf extract’s reputation for being a powerful antioxidant is no exaggeration; when researchers assessed the antioxidant capacity of 55 medicinal herbs, it ranked right up the top of the list, displaying more than double the antioxidant potential of other well-known free radical fighting herbs such as green tea and milk thistle. Of the many constituents present in olive leaf extract, the antioxidant compound oleuropein is widely regarded as being the most medicinally important.
Anti-infective and immune-boosting properties
Laboratory studies have shown that oleuropein and a number of the other constituents in olive leaves possess antimicrobial activity against a wide range of organisms. It has been hypothesised that olive leaf extract may work in part by inhibiting viruses’ ability of replicate themselves and cause infection.
An ability to stimulate phagocytosis (the process in which white blood cells ‘gobble up’ infectious micro-organisms) provides further support for its immune system supporting actions.
Based on these properties, olive leaf extract is popularly used for colds, flu, tonsillitis, bronchitis and fungal infections such as candida. In traditional Western herbal medicine, olive leaves were also specifically indicated for conditions associated with fever.
Blood pressure, cholesterol and heart health
Olive leaf may help to maintain a healthy heart and cardiovascular system via a number of different physiological effects, including its powerful antioxidant activity and its ability to help maintain normal blood pressure in healthy adults.
How does olive leaf extract differ from olive oil?
Olive oil has heart-protecting properties of its own, and with its exceptionally healthy fatty acid profile, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil is a valuable inclusion in your daily diet. However, while olive oil (especially extra virgin olive oil) does contain oleuropein and some of the other compounds found in olive leaf extract, they are present in significantly reduced quantities.
On the other hand, olive leaf extract doesn't contain large amounts of the monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, and nor does it contain much oleic acid, which is believed responsible for at least some of the health benefits of olive oil.
What else do I need to know?
Oleuropein is highly sensitive to heat, which interferes with its antioxidant properties and ability to exert its other effects. When choosing an olive leaf extract supplement, always make sure that it contains guaranteed levels of oleuropein so that you can be sure you’re getting optimal benefit.