Do you know which antioxidant is the most powerful? Vitamin C? Beta-carotene? Green tea? No, the world's most powerful antioxidant is something you've probably never heard of; it's a little polyphenol called hydroxytyrosol.
Hydroxytyrosol is the superstar of antioxidants - the most powerful discovered to date! It has an ORAC value (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity - its ability to absorb cell-damaging free radicals) of 68,576 - which is considered to be 15 times higher than green tea and 3 times higher than CoQ10.
It is not well-known yet because its discovery, and extensive studies of its properties, are so recent. Yet hydroxytyrosol is already being recognized by scientists for its powerful anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant and cardioprotective properties.
What's So Special About Hydroxytyrosol?
Hydroxytyrosol is primarily found in the olive – its fruit, leaves and pulp. It was first discovered and extracted from the wastewater that resulted when green olives were rinsed in the process of making olive oil.
For decades olive oil has been known for its many healthy properties. It has long been noted that Mediterranean countries have lower rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer than other Western countries. And since the most characteristic element of the Mediterranean diet is olive oil, researchers began studying it, looking for the compound that was responsible for the anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering effects.
Traditionally, the benefits of olive oil have been ascribed to its oleic acid content. However, other foods like pork and chicken are also rich in oleic acid but do not provide the same cardiovascular protection as olive oil. So scientists began to search for other properties of olive oil that might be responsible for its health-promoting effects.
That's when they found hydroxytyrosol - the polyphenol thought to be responsible for olive oil's anti-inflammatory effects. Its ability to absorb free radicals and protect cells and mitochondria from damage is quite impressive.
Hydroxytyrosol boasts the highest level of free radical absorption activity ever reported for a natural antioxidant.
Hydroxytyrosol has some other very special characteristics that contribute to its effectiveness. It is:
• Rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and tissues, where it can perform its free radical scavenging duties.
• The only phenol that is able to cross the blood-brain barrier, which allows it to also absorb free radicals throughout the central nervous system.
• A metabolite of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which means it may play a role in neuroprotection.
• Both fat and water soluble, giving it the highest bioavailability of any antioxidant.
The Science Behind Hydroxytyrosol
In numerous human, animal and in vitro studies, hydroxytyrosol has been shown to:
• Reduce markers/indicators of inflammation including IL-10, PEG-1, C-reactive protein, COX-2, TNF-a, iNOS and others.(1)
• Support healthy mitochondrial function and significantly increase ATP energy production.(2)
• Improve the quality of life for osteoporosis patients.(3)
• Promote significant and rapid reductions in LDL or 'bad' cholesterol.(4)
• Boost eye health and reduce the risk of macular degeneration.(5)
• Have a therapeutic effect on the cardiovascular system.(6)
Additional research shows that hydroxytyrosol holds great promise for a wide variety of potential health benefits.
A two-part German study in 2007 investigating the effect of hydroxytyrosol on mitochondrial membranes in the brains of mice concluded, “...the ex vivo data provide the first evidence of neuroprotective effects of oral hydroxytyrosol intake.”(7)
In 2010, the same group of researchers conducted a study to determine whether hydroxytyrosol reduces the risk of age-dependent neurodegeneration and cognitive decline. They concluded, “The results we obtained mainly confirm our previous observation of promising cytoprotection of brain cells...”(8)
Breast Tissue Health
Because previous studies had related olive oil ingestion to a low incidence of breast cancer, researchers in Spain tested the effect of hydroxytyrosol on human breast cell lines.
They found that “...hydroxytyrosol could contribute to a lower incidence of breast cancer in populations that consume virgin olive oil due to its antioxidant activity and its protection against oxidative DNA damage in mammary cells.”(9)
In a study published last month (May 2012) using rats, Italian researchers investigated hydroxytyrosol as a potential new strategy for counteracting the progression of peripheral diabetic neuropathy.
They concluded, “The present study provides evidence of the therapeutic potential of the natural substance hydroxytyrosol in the early stage of diabetic neuropathy.”(10)
Need to Know Information
Purity and Potency: The hydroxytyrosol in ProHealth's Hydroxytyrosol Extreme is extracted from organic olive leaves and is the first pure hydroxytyrosol sold in the U.S. It contains a minimum of 25% hydroxytyrosol, which means you get 25 mg of pure hydroxytyrosol per 100 mg capsule.
Safety: Hydroxytyrosol has an excellent safety profile. No adverse effects have been demonstrated even at very high doses. The FDA has granted hydroxytyrosol GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status.
Dosage: The suggested dosage as a dietary supplement is one 100 mg capsule daily, which provides 25 mg of pure hydroxytyrosol, or as otherwise recommended by your health care professional.
Hydroxytyrosol is the most powerful natural antioxidant currently known. Well-documented studies confirm its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant and cardioprotective health benefits. Although still relatively new to most people, hydroxytyrosol promises to soon become a staple in natural health care.
* Supplement research reporter Karen Lee Richards is Lead Expert specializing in Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS for HealthCentral’s chronic pain site (www.HealthCentral.com/Chronic-Pain)
1. Sanchez-Fidalgo S, et al. Influence of extra virgin olive oil diet enriched with hydroxytyrosol in a chronic DSS colitis model. Eur J Nutr. 2012 Jun;51(4):497-506.
2. Hao J, et al. Hydroxytyrosol promotes mitochondrial biogenesis and mitochondrial function in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. J Nutr Biochem. 2010 Jul;21(7):634-44.
3. Hagiwara K, et al. Olive polyphenol hydroxytyrosol prevents bone loss. Eur J Pharmacol. 2011 Jul 15;662(1-3):78-84.
4. Gonzalez-Santiago M, et al. One-month administration of hydroxytyrosol, a phenolic antioxidant present in olive oil, to hyperlipemic rabbits improves blood lipid profile, antioxidant status and reduces atherosclerosis development. Atherosclerosis. 2006 Sep;188(1):35-42.
5. Zhu L, et al. Hydroxytyrosol protects against oxidative damage by simultaneous activation of mitochondrial biogenesis and phase II detoxifying enzyme systems in retinal pigment epithelial cells. J Nutr Biochem. 2010 Nov;21(11):1089-98.
6. Vazquez-Velasco M, et al. Effects of hydroxytyrosol-enriched sunflower oil consumption on CVD risk factors. Br J Nutr. 2011 May;105(10):1448-52.
7. Schaffer S, et al. Hydroxytyrosol-rich olive mill wastewater extract protects brain cells in vitro and ex vivo. J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Jun 27;55(13):5043-9.
8. Schaffer S, et al. Cytoprotective effects of olive mill wastewater extract and its main constituent hydroxytyrosol in PC12 cells. Pharmacol Res. 2010 Oct;62(4):322-7.
9. Warleta, F, et al. Hydroxytyrosol Protects against Oxidative DNA Damage in Human Breast Cells. Nutrients 2011, 3(10), 839-857.
10. Ristagno G, et al. Hydroxytyrosol Attenuates Peripheral Neuropathy in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetes in Rats. J. Agric. Food Chem., 2012, 60 (23), pp 5859–5865.
Note: This information has not been reviewed by the FDA. It is for general information purposes; is not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure any illness, condition or disease; and should not replace the personal attention of a qualified healthcare professional. It is very important that you make no change in your healthcare plan or health support regimen without researching and discussing it in collaboration with your professional healthcare team.