High hopes for olive leaf

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By MARYKE PENMAN

The Mediter­ranean diet could hold the se­cret to re­duc­ing heart dis­ease, a re­searcher says.

A Massey Univer­sity study, led by PhD stu­dent Stacey Lock­yer and as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor Welma Stone­house, will ex­am­ine whether olive leaf ex­tract can lower blood pres­sure and the risk of heart dis­ease.

In­spired by the typ­i­cal Mediter­ranean diet, high in olive oil, fish, veg­eta­bles and toma­toes, the study is hoped to pro­vide more meth­ods of treat­ing high blood pres­sure.

Ac­cord­ing to the Heart Foun­da­tion, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease is the coun­try’s big­gest killer, ac­count­ing for one death ev­ery 90 min­utes.

High blood pres­sure is one of the main causes, af­fect­ing one in five New Zealan­ders.

Ms Lock­yer be­lieves olive leaf ex­tract could hold the key to re­duc­ing blood pres­sure nat­u­rally and is call­ing for men aged be­tween 18 and 65 to take part in the study.

She says only a hand­ful of other stud­ies have been done be­fore, but none have fol­lowed the ‘‘gold stan­dard de­sign’’, the best avail­able test un­der rea­son­able con­di­tions.

The study is funded by nat­u­ral health com­pany Comvita.

It will ex­am­ine the heart func­tion of 60 men over a 16-week pe­riod as they take a com­bi­na­tion of olive leaf ex­tract and placebo prod­ucts.

Ms Lock­yer ex­pects the re­sults will be avail­able by De­cem­ber.

‘‘I think we will no­tice the big­gest change in those with raised blood pres­sure.’’

She says most peo­ple are not usu­ally aware of their blood pres­sure un­less they have had health prob­lems in the past.

The study will pro­vide par­tic­i­pants with a valu­able in­sight into their heart health as well as blood test re­sults.

Olive leaf ex­tract has been found to con­tain 30 times more an­tiox­i­dants than vi­ta­min C and twice the amount in green tea ex­tract.

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