Olive Oil Zaps Ulcer-Causing Bug
Stomach ulcers have been linked to a microorganism called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori.) That’s why ulcer treatment now includes antibiotics. But antibiotics can cause side effects and fail to eliminate infection in 10-30 % of people, in part because of new, antibiotic-resistant strains of H. pylori.
So it’s good news to hear that virgin olive oil kills H. pylori, at least in laboratory tests. Researchers from Spain pitted olive oil against H. pylori in test tube experiments that duplicated the stomach’s acidity. They found that the olive oil had strong bacteria-killing activity against eight strains of H. pylori, including three strains that were resistant to some antibiotics. The oil remained stable for hours, even at low concentrations and despite the acidity.
Virgin olive oil contains high amounts of polyphenols, compounds known to have antimicrobial activity against a broad spectrum of food-borne bugs. Other foods that also contain polyphenols and that also inhibit H. pylori include red wine, green tea and cranberry juice. (Romero, C et al. J Agric. Food Chem 2007; 55:680-686.)
Virgin olive oil needs further testing to see if it works as well in real life as it does in test tubes. In the meantime, though, there are plenty of reasons to include virgin olive oil in your diet. Among other things, it helps raise HDL cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, and lower your risk for some kinds of cancers.
Note: Traditionally, extra virgin is oil from the first press of the olives. Virgin is from the second press. These days, some producers grade olive oil by its percentage of oleic acid. The less oleic acid, the higher the grade. Extra virgin is the highest grade.
Article updated on: March 12th, 2007