Dozens of phenolic compounds
have been identified in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), each with their
own unique health benefits. One of the benefits of these compounds is
they have high bioavailability, extensive research reporting the
anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiviral properties
obtained from these compounds.
Infections or infectious diseases are caused by viruses, bacteria,
parasites, fungi and various other disease causing agents. Once an
infection is contracted, the human body relies on the immune system to
fight the infection through a range of cellular, inflammatory, and
immune reactions. Although there are medications to treat infection,
naturally derived food sources such as EVOO also show promise in
preventing and treating infection also.
Early in vitro studies showed that several polyphenols in olive oil
have antibacterial properties against human pathogens, particularly
oleuropein, tyrosol, and hydroxytyrosol. In a 5 minute room temperature
test, hydroxytyrosol, and tyrosol decreased the activity of Listeria
monocytogenes, the bacteria contracted from contaminated food that
causes the bacterial infection known as Listeriosis.
Decarboxymethyl elenolic acid (EDA), p-HPEA-EDA, and 3,4-DHPEA-EDA
have been shown to have greater antimicrobial activity than the
commercial disinfectants glutaraldehyde and ortho- phthalaldehyde. The
phenolic compound oleocanthal has been shown to inhibit the growth of
Helicobacter pylori bacteria, a bacteria associated with peptic ulcer
and gastric cancer development.
Hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein have been shown to have antiviral
activity in a dose-dependent manner. They were shown to inhibit the main
viral fusing protein in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 target
cells. Hydroxytyrosol has been shown to disrupt the influenza virus.
Oleuropein has been shown to have anti-hepatitis B activity.
Although all of the above benefits have been discovered, these
effects have only been demonstrated through in vitro studies at this
stage. However, there have also been several animal and human studies
that do show the benefits of EVOO for infection. More