(NaturalNews) One of hottest areas of current scientific research involves one of the tastiest ingredients of Mediterranean-style dishes -- olive oil. Evidence has been steadily mounting that olive oil protects and builds health in a variety of ways. Not only does it help prevent depression and fight inflammation (http://www.naturalnews.com/029294_olive_oil_...), but phytonutrients in olive oil have been found to be effective against breast cancer cells, too (http://www.naturalnews.com/025633_cancer_oli...).
Could the news about olive oil get any better? It just did. Now scientists have discovered extra virgin olive oil can protect the liver from oxidative stress -- the physiological stress on the body caused by free radical damage. Oxidative stress is linked to a host of health problems as well as aging.
Mohamed Hammami from the University of Monastir in Tunisia and King Saudi University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, worked with a team of researchers to carry out experiments on 80 lab rats. The animals were separated into groups that were exposed to the moderately toxic herbicide 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid which is known to cause oxidative stress because it deplete antioxidants.
The animals in various groups received either their regular diet or food supplemented with whole olive oil or one of two olive oil extracts -- the hydrophilic fraction or the lipophilic fraction. Although all the rats given the herbicide showed signs of significant liver damage, the animals who had a diet enriched with extra virgin olive oil or the hydrophilic fraction were found to have a significant increase in antioxidant enzyme activity. What's more, they had a dramatic decrease in markers of liver damage.
Dr. Hammami noted in a press statement that the hydrophilic fraction of olive oil seemed to be the most effective supplement in controlling toxin-induced oxidative stress. And that strongly indicates hydrophilic extract from olive oil may exert a direct protective, antioxidant effect on liver cells.
"Olive oil is an integral ingredient in the Mediterranean diet. There is growing evidence that it may have great health benefits including the reduction in coronary heart disease risk, the prevention of some cancers and the modification of immune and inflammatory responses," Dr. Hammami said in a statement to the media. "Here, we've shown that extra virgin olive oil and its extracts protect against oxidative damage of hepatic tissue."
Editor's note: NaturalNews is opposed to the use of animals in medical experiments that expose them to harm. We present these findings in protest of the way in which they were acquired.