Consumption of Virgin Olive Oil on a regular basis increases life expectancy over time

Consumption of Virgin Olive Oil on a regular basis increases life expectancy over time

2019/11/07 - Scientists from the University of Granada (UGR) have determined that the prolonged intake of virgin olive oil and, to a lesser extent, fish oil, increases the average life expectancy in rats fed throughout their lives with any of these types of fat from the diet versus sunflower oil.

The study, led by researchers from the Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology "José Mataix Verdú", located in the Biomedical Research Center of the University of Granada, in collaboration with specialists in Pathological Anatomy of the University Hospital San Cecilio de Granada and the Complejo Hospitalario de Jaén, as well as with the group of Professor Maurizio Battino, of the Università Polictecnica delle Marche in Ancona (Italy) and Visiting Scholar at the University of Granada, has been published in the prestigious journal The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences.

In this study, as explained by Professor of Physiology at the University of Granada, José L. Quiles -and responsible for research-, the authors fed rats with different fat sources (virgin olive oil, sunflower oil or fish oil), trying to find out the effects on health and longevity of diets with a majority content in w9 (omega 9) type fatty acids, such as those provided mainly by virgin olive oil, compared to fatty acids w6 (omega 6), mainly present in sunflower oil, and w3 (omega 3) fatty acids, mostly located in fish oil.

In order to assess the effect of the majority consumption of one type of fat or another, survival curves of the animals were constructed where the rhythm to which the animals died naturally during their whole life could be studied.

Longer half life
The results showed that the animals fed with virgin olive oil had a longer half-life and had a more extended survival curve throughout their life compared to those fed with sunflower oil. On the other hand, the animals fed with fish oil also had a longer half-life than those fed with sunflower, although their survival curve only extended with respect to that of sunflower in some phases of their life.

Regarding the findings observed in the study of causes of death, it was found that in all cases animals died when they reached an advanced age, mainly from cancer (approximately 50% of deaths). Also it is important to highlight those deaths due to cardiovascular pathologies (between 20 and 30% of deaths) as well as those that had an infectious or inflammatory cause (12-20% of deaths). In any case, there were no significant differences between the groups regarding the greater or lesser frequency of appearance of a certain type of cause of death.

According to César Luis Ramírez-Tortosa, head of the team of pathologists of the study, "these results seem to indicate that the shorter half-life and survival associated with the intake of sunflower oil was not due to the fact that this fat enhances the appearance of a greater percentage of deaths due to a specific cause of death, but rather it could be because these diseases would be appearing earlier in time."

Coenzyme Q10
In a second part of the study, the researchers used the same fats described above but supplemented with coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), an antioxidant that has proven useful in some pathologies associated with aging. The addition of CoQ10 to sunflower oil improved the survival of the rats, matching the results with those found in animals fed virgin olive oils or fish.

On the other hand, CoQ10 did not have any additional effect when added to virgin olive oil or fish oil. These results could indicate, according to Alfonso Varela, co-author of the study, that "the use of supplements based on antioxidants should be restricted to special situations, such as those related to a deficient diet or in specific pathological situations, while its use in healthy individuals well fed would not bring any additional benefit, at best. "

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