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Want Healthy Blood Pressure? “Leaf” it to Olives!

If you’ve already heard about the Mediterranean Diet and its ability to work cardiovascular wonders, one of the big players is olive oil. But like many healthy botanicals, there’s more to the olive tree than the oil. The leaves are sources of health-promoting polyphenols, too.

One of the primary polyphenols that has attracted the attention of researchers is a compound called oleuropein. The reason for this is that olive leaf extracts standardized for consistent oleuropein content have shown some remarkable results in lowering blood pressure.

Olive leaf extract is especially helpful for individuals who have blood pressure right on the edge of being too high, or that has just crossed the border of being considered hypertension.

One clinical study found that it was equal to a prescription drug – possibly better, considering the olive leaf extract also significantly lowered triglyceride levels – something the drug didn’t do. Another clinical trial found that a specialized olive leaf extract lowered systolic pressure by as much as 13 points, diastolic pressure by as much as 5 points, and reduced LDL cholesterol levels as well. Researchers believe that olive leaf protects the walls of the blood vessels, and acts as a vasodilator, widening narrow blood vessels so that blood flows more easily and with less effort by the heart.

If you have noticed your blood pressure levels creeping up a bit more than you’d like, consider adding olive leaf extract to your regimen. Just make sure that it has been standardized to at least at least 16 to 24 percent of oleuropein, and stick with it for at least three months. Consider combining your olive leaf extract with a tannin-free grape seed extract for even greater cardiovascular protection.

Abstracts:

Susalit E, Agus N, Effendi I, et al. Olive (Olea europaea) leaf extract effective in patients with stage-1 hypertension: comparison with Captopril. Phytomedicine. 2011 Feb 15;18(4):251-8.

A double-blind, randomized, parallel and active-controlled clinical study was conducted to evaluate the anti-hypertensive effect as well as the tolerability of Olive leaf extract in comparison with Captopril in patients with stage-1 hypertension. Additionally, this study also investigated the hypolipidemic effects of Olive leaf extract in such patients. It consisted of a run-in period of 4 weeks continued subsequently by an 8-week treatment period. Olive (Olea europaea L.) leaf extract (EFLA(®)943) was given orally at the dose of 500 mg twice daily in a flat-dose manner throughout the 8 weeks. Captopril was given at the dosage regimen of 12.5 mg twice daily at start. After 2 weeks, if necessary, the dose of Captopril would be titrated to 25 mg twice daily, based on subject's response to treatment. The primary efficacy endpoint was reduction in systolic blood pressure (SBP) from baseline to week-8 of treatment. The secondary efficacy endpoints were SBP as well as diastolic blood pressure (DBP) changes at every time-point evaluation and lipid profile improvement. Evaluation of BP was performed every week for 8 weeks of treatment; while of lipid profile at a 4-week interval. Mean SBP at baseline was 149.3±5.58 mmHg in Olive group and 148.4±5.56 mmHg in Captopril group; and mean DBPs were 93.9±4.51 and 93.8±4.88 mmHg, respectively. After 8 weeks of treatment, both groups experienced a significant reduction of SBP as well as DBP from baseline; while such reductions were not significantly different between groups. Means of SBP reduction from baseline to the end of study were -11.5±8.5 and -13.7±7.6 mmHg in Olive and Captopril groups, respectively; and those of DBP were -4.8±5.5 and -6.4±5.2 mmHg, respectively. A significant reduction of triglyceride level was observed in Olive group, but not in Captopril group. In conclusion, Olive (Olea europaea) leaf extract, at the dosage regimen of 500 mg twice daily, was similarly effective in lowering systolic and diastolic blood pressures in subjects with stage-1 hypertension as Captopril, given at its effective dose of 12.5-25 mg twice daily.

Perrinjaquet-Moccetti T, Busjahn A, Schmidlin C, Schmidt A, Bradl B, Aydogan C. Food supplementation with an olive (Olea europaea L.) leaf extract reduces blood pressure in borderline hypertensive monozygotic twins. Phytother Res. 2008;22(9):1239-42.

Hypertension is a harmful disease factor that develops unnoticed over time. The treatment of hypertension is aimed at an early diagnosis followed by adequate lifestyle changes rather than pharmacological treatment. The olive leaf extract EFLA943, having antihypertensive actions in rats, was tested as a food supplement in an open study including 40 borderline hypertensive monozygotic twins. Twins of each pair were assigned to different groups receiving 500 or 1000 mg/day EFLA943 for 8 weeks, or advice on a favorable lifestyle. Body weight, heart rate, blood pressure, glucose and lipids were measured fortnightly. Blood pressure changed significantly within pairs, depending on the dose, with mean systolic differences of < or =6 mmHg (500 mg vs control) and < or =13 mmHg (1000 vs 500 mg), and diastolic differences of < or =5 mmHg. After 8 weeks, mean blood pressure remained unchanged from baseline in controls (systolic/diastolic: 133 +/- 5/77 +/- 6 vs 135 +/- 11/80 +/- 7 mmHg) and the low-dose group (136 +/- 7/77 +/- 7 vs 133 +/- 10/76 +/- 7), but had significantly decreased for the high dose group (137 +/- 10/80 +/- 10 vs 126 +/- 9/76 +/- 6). Cholesterol levels decreased for all treatments with significant dose-dependent within-pair differences for LDL-cholesterol. None of the other parameters showed significant changes or consistent trends. Concluding, the study confirmed the antihypertensive and cholesterol-lowering action of EFLA943 in humans.

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Terry is happy to provide his opinion on diet and nutrition, supplements and lifestyle choices. This information is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the advice of your physician and is not to be considered medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Should you have any concerns please contact your physician directly.
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