Olive Oil May Be Key to Mediterranean Diet's Benefits

Study links ingredient to repression of genes responsible for inflammation

TUESDAY, April 20 (HealthDay News) -- The heart-healthy effects of the famous "Mediterranean diet" may have something to do with components of virgin olive oil that repress genes that promote inflammation, a new study reports.

"These findings strengthen the relationship between inflammation, obesity and diet and provide evidence at the most basic level of healthy effects derived from virgin olive oil consumption in humans," study leader Francisco Perez-Jimenez of the University of Cordoba, Spain, said in a news release from BioMed Central, publisher of BMC Genomics. The study was published online April 19 in the journal.

Perez-Jimenez and his colleagues studied how a diet rich in so-called phenol compounds -- which are found in olive oil, especially extra-virgin types -- affected the workings of genes in 20 people with a common condition called metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome puts people at risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

More information

The American Heart Association has more on the Mediterranean diet.

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