Already fabled for an array of health benefits, extra virgin olive oil — a centerpiece of the Mediterranean Diet — may have a new role in helping to prevent and treat Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infections, which cause millions of cases of gastritis and peptic ulcer disease each year, researchers in Spain report.
Manuel Brenes and colleagues cite past studies showing that green tea, cranberry juice and certain other natural foods inhibit the growth of H. pylori (which infects the stomach lining), leading researchers to recommend consumption of those foods. None of the numerous studies on olive oil, however, has tested its effects on H. pylori, they note in a study scheduled for the Feb. 21 issue of ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a biweekly publication.
Brenes and colleagues used laboratory experiments to demonstrate that under simulated conditions the healthful phenolic compounds in extra virgin olive oil remain stable in the acidic environment of the stomach for hours. In laboratory cultures, those substances had a strong antibacterial effect against eight strains of H. pylori, including antibiotic-resistant strains.
"These results open the possibility of considering extra virgin olive oil a chemoprotective agent for peptic ulcer or gastric cancer, but this bioactivity must be confirmed in vivo in the future," they conclude.
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