Why olive oil can help us live longer
If you use olive oil for cooking – not the tasteless stuff but the extra virgin sort – it may help to extend your life expectancy. We, the ignorant compilers of this free webzine, drew this conclusion after reading a review article that Spanish molecular scientists published in Cell Cycle. According to the researchers, extra virgin olive oil contains substances that delay the process of aging and reduce the chance of diseases of aging, including cancer.
The substances that the researchers have in mind are called secoiridoid polyphenols. The two secoiridoid polyphenols that the researchers are most interested in are shown below. Left: oleuropein, right: decarboxymethyl-oleuropein. The researchers suspect that it's these substances that mean olive oil might reduce the chance of cancer [FASEB J. 2007 Jan;21(1):45-52.] and increase the life expectancy of lab rats.
As part of the government-funded Bioactive Food Component Platform, researchers in Spain are studying at molecular level the effect of extracts from olive oil that contain high concentrations of these secoiridoid polyphenols. The researchers have discovered that these substances activate the enzyme AMPK in cells. [Shown here: p-AMPK = active AMPK.]
AMPK is usually activated by fasting or long-term physical exercise. Cells start to repair themselves and rejuvenate when AMPK becomes active. That's why people live longer the more they exercise. The researchers suspect that the secoiridoid polyphenols in olive oil have the same effect as fasting and exercise.
Delaying the aging process
In their article the researchers describe experiments with human diploid fibroblasts [PD], in which they used a colouring test on aging cells, and observed that those that no longer functioned optimally turned blue. There was no coloration when the cells were exposed to the olive extract EVOO-PE-7. The substances that this contains are shown here.
From their experiments, the researchers concluded that the phenols in olive oil not only stimulate the enzyme AMPK, but that they also deactivate the molecular switch mTOR.
MTOR not only plays a key role in anabolic processes in muscle cells, but also in aging and cancer. MTOR is overactive in many cancer cells. That's why the secoiridoid polyphenols in olive oil can not only delay aging processes, but also inhibit cancer. The Spaniards believe.
Cell Cycle. 2013 Feb 15;12(4):555-78.
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