Friday, 11 August 2017 09:32

Cardiovascular protection with wine and virgin olive oil

For the first time, an association between a polyphenol metabolite, homovanillyl alcohol (present in virgin olive oil and wine and typical of a Mediterranean diet) and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and total mortality in elderly individuals was shown.

Hydroxytyrosol is a polyphenol present in two key components of the traditional Mediterranean diet: virgin olive oil (VOO) and wine. Hydroxytyrosol and its related phenolic compound tyrosol represent 70–80 % of the total polyphenol VOO content. In addition, hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol are also present in wine, and particularly red wine can promote an endogenous hydroxytyrosol generation at moderate concentrations. The main biological metabolite of hydroxytyrosol is 3-O-methyl-hydro­xy­tyrosol, also known as homovanillyl alcohol (HVAL).

Hydroxytyrosol is one of the strongest antioxidants, antiproliferative, pro-apoptotic (*), antiplatelet, and anti-inflammatory polyphenols. In addition, several clinical trials have demonstrated the benefits of hydroxytyrosol on risk factors for CVD. In 2011, EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) released a health claim for the benefits of the daily ingestion of olive oil rich in hydroxytyrosol for preventing LDL-cholesterol oxidation: to bear the claim, 5 mg hydroxytyrosol and its derivatives (e.g., oleuropein complex and tyrosol) should be consumed daily within the context of a balanced diet.

Since both moderate wine consumption and high olive oil consumption, have been shown to be protective against cardiovascular disease (CVD) and total mortality, it is proposed that this effect could be partly accounted for by the intake of hydroxytyrosol.

Recently, a group of Spanish scientists from various research institutions investigated the association between hydroxytyrosol and HVAL with CVD and total mortality in 1851 men and women at high risk of CVD (with a mean age of 67 years) from the PREDIMED study. The PREDIMED study is a parallel-group, randomized, multicenter controlled “feeding” trial aimed at assessing the effects of a traditional Mediterranean diet in the prevention of CVD. The primary endpoint consisted of myocardial infarction, stroke, and death from cardiovascular causes; the secondary endpoint was all-cause mortality.

After adjusting for possible confounding factors, 24-hr urine samples of hydroxytyrosol and HVAL were related to a lower CVD risk. From all biomarkers, only HVAL was significantly associated with gained years of life or years free of CVD after the age of 65.  Individuals in the highest quintile of HVAL compared with the lowest had 9.2 and 6.3 additional years of life or years free of CVD, respectively. In addition, HVAL was associated with a lower total mortality and lower CVD risk.

The scientists concluded that their study demonstrated for the first time an independent association between high urinary HVAL concentrations and a lower risk of CVD and total mortality in elderly individuals and that these results reinforce the benefits of two key components of the Mediterranean diet: wine and virgin olive oil.

De la Torre R, Corella D, Castañer O, et al. Protective effect of homovanillyl alcohol on cardiovascular disease and total mortality: virgin olive oil, wine, and catechol-methylathion. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017;105: 1297-1304.

For more information about this article, read the scientific abstract here.

(*) Apoptosis:A type of cell death in which a series of molecular steps in a cell lead to its death. This is one method the body uses to get rid of unneeded or abnormal cells. Apoptosis plays a crucial role in developing and maintaining the health of the body by eliminating old cells, unnecessary cells, and unhealthy cells. The human body replaces perhaps one million cells per second. Too little or too much apoptosis can play a role in many diseases. The process of apoptosis may be blocked in cancer cells. When apoptosis does not work correctly, cells that should be eliminated may persist and become immortal, for example, in cancer. When apoptosis works too well, it kills too many cells and inflicts severe tissue damage. This is the case in strokes and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and Parkinson's diseases. Also known as programmed cell death.

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