Olives are loved the world over for their delicious taste and rich nutritional profile. From their home in the Mediterranean to the new world and beyond, olives add rich colour and unique flavour to any diet. Along with producing the world's favourite oil and most delectable small fruits, the olive tree also produces olive leaves. These silvery-green oblong leaves offer a range of health benefits, especially when they're concentrated and made available as a powerful extract. From heart health to immune system support and weight management, this powerful nutritional supplement has so much to offer.
Let's take a detailed look at olive leaf extract, including its history, nutritional profile, and many health benefits. When consumed as part of a balanced diet, olive leaf extract can supercharge many aspects of your health.
What is Olive Leaf Extract?
Olive leaf extract is made from the leaves of Olea europaea, or the olive tree. This simple tree is an important part of the Mediterranean diet, with the fruit, oil, and leaves of the plant all consumed on a regular basis. Olive leaves contain an active ingredient called oleuropein, which offers a variety of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. While olive leaves can be consumed in their natural form, an extract is often produced to obtain a concentrated dose of this compound. With the right preparation, it's possible to access high amounts of oleuropein and other beneficial nutrients.
If you're familiar with the health-giving properties of olive oil, then you're already aware of the benefits of olive leaf extract. The phenolics found in olive leaf extract are the very same, but they're much more concentrated in the leaves compared with both olive fruits and olive oil. Along with oleuropein, unprocessed olive leaves include high amounts of hydroxytyrosol, along with polyphenols and flavonoids such as luteolin, rutin, elenolic acid, caffeic acid, catechin, and apigenin. The composition of these compounds depends on plant variety and maturity, harvesting methods, storage conditions, and extraction techniques.
History of Olive Leaf Extract
The olive tree has a long history with cultures across the Mediterranean. These plants have been cultivated for more than 3,000 years, with the fruit consumed as food and the leaves used as a source of plant medicine. The olive tree was also referenced in ancient religious texts as a symbol of peace and unity. Olive leaf was first used by the ancient Egyptians, who would chew on the fresh leaves of the plant for health benefits. The Egyptians also used the plant to make soaps and cosmetics, a tradition that is still followed to this day.
The ancient Greeks and Romans also used the olive tree for health purposes, with leaves dried and ground down to produce a herbal remedy. From infections to fever and pain, this powerful plant was consumed as a general health tonic and applied as a specific remedy for numerous health conditions. The Romans used a special brewing process to make olive leaf tea, which they used medicinally to aid recovery from wounds and diseases like malaria. In modern times, oleuropein and elenolic acid have been isolated from olive leaf and found to inhibit the growth of viruses, bacteria, fungi, and microbes.
The Nutritional Profile of Olive Leaf Extract
Olive leaf extract offers a wide range of beneficial nutrients, from phytonutrients like oleuropein to vitamins and minerals. It contains a number of essential but relatively common nutrients, including iron, zinc, chromium, selenium, and beta-carotene. In addition, this health-giving extract contains more vitamin C and antioxidants than green tea extract, along with a wide range of essential amino acids.
Along with vitamins, minerals, and aminos, olive leaf extract has a wide range of flavonoids, catechins, and other phytonutrients. Many of these compounds have an impressive antioxidant capacity, none more so than oleuropein and its metabolite, hydroxytyrosol. This compound is responsible for a variety of antioxidant activities and is said to be responsible for many of olive leaf's anti-inflammatory and disease-fighting properties.
Health Benefits of Olive Leaf Extract
Olive leaf extract is a powerful natural substance that offers the following health advantages:
Supports healthy blood pressure
Olive leaf extract may help to lower blood pressure, including systolic or maximum pressure and diastolic or 'between the beats' pressure. According to a study from 2017, olive leaf extract helped to lower blood pressure in a controlled trial, which supports a reduced risk of stroke and heart attack. While olive leaf extract is beneficial for most people, oleuropein can exacerbate low blood pressure conditions and interact negatively with pharmaceutical drugs designed to regulate diabetes.
Promotes heart health
Along with lowering blood pressure, the oleuropein content in olive leaf extract also provides other cardioprotective benefits. Based on another study, this extract can have positive effects on atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries), which is the highest risk factor for heart disease. Olive oil is famous for its atheroprotective effects, with the extract providing a much higher concentration of active polyphenol compounds.
Supports healthy weight management
The benefits of olive leaf extract are not limited to the cardiovascular system, it also has a positive effect on weight management. According to a study from 2014, the consumption of olive leaf extract can help to prevent diet-induced obesity. While these positive results were based on an animal study, olive leaf extract is thought to regulate the expression of genes affecting weight gain. With obesity a large and growing problem in western society, this extract could be part of the solution. Olive leaf extract may also help people to reduce their food intake and manage overeating.
Offers immune system support
The human immune system protects us from a range of conditions, from viruses and bacteria to neurological disorders and cancer. The oleuropein compound modifies the human immune response, offering protection from low-grade inflammatory diseases and possibly reinforcing anti-tumour activity. According to one study, olive leaf extract is a potentially rewarding therapeutic compound for the treatment of chronic inflammatory disease. The olive tree is responsible for some of the health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet, as it provides a number of anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-angiogenic, anti-cancer, and neuroprotective functions.
Provides protection against viruses
Olive leaf extract has potent antiviral properties, and it's long been used to treat viral conditions. Along with providing its bitter and pungent taste, the oleuropein content is responsible for most of the plant's antiviral functions. Among other things, olive leaf extract may help to fight genital herpes and cold sores. While many of the modern antiviral studies linked to the plant have been limited to cell cultures, the olive plant has been used to treat viruses for thousands of years.
How to Consume Olive Leaf Extract
Over the course of many centuries, the olive plant has spread beyond the Mediterranean and around the world. Olive oil and olive fruits have had a profound influence on global food culture, and olive leaves are concentrated and consumed as a popular health tonic.
You can buy olive leaf extract in all corners of the world, and take it daily as a supplement, tincture, or tonic. A spoonful of the liquid extract can be a great addition to your daily diet, and a special tea can be brewed to give you a health boost. While there are no official dosing guidelines when it comes to olive leaf extract, most commercial products will recommend a daily amount.
Olive leaf extract is safe for most people, but its astringent qualities can cause mild side effects in some. If you experience serious side effects or allergic reactions after taking the extract, it's important to speak with your doctor. Olive leaf extract can lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels in some situations, so professional advice is needed if you suffer from diabetes or take any kind of blood medication.
If you're looking for a reliable source of quality olive leaf extract, Healthy Being is here to assist. We have pure liquid extract in multiple sizes and tasty products with added berry and peppermint. We also have gentle olive leaf extract for children, convenient olive leaf lozenges, and oral sprays with peppermint and lemon flavours.