High hopes for olive leaf
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.