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The leaves of the olive tree may not be as legendary as its Superfruit, the olive, but even the ancient Egyptians used olive leaf extract for medicinal purposes. Today, researchers are confirming that olive leaf benefits health in many ways, including its usefulness as an effective high blood pressure supplement and its ability to combat the other crucial heart disease risk factor: high cholesterol.
In recent years, scientists have discovered the amazing ability of this potent natural medicine to safely reduce blood pressure and cholesterol in a variety of human studies.
Olive Leaf Extract: Clinically Proven
A couple of studies illustrate olive leaf benefits patients with prehypertension and stage 1 hypertension, making it an effective high blood pressure supplement. After discovering that it effectively treated hypertension in rats, Swiss and German researchers reported in 2008 in the medical journal Phytotherapy Research that an extract of olive leaf benefits heart health by reducing blood pressure as well as cholesterol in adults with prehypertension.
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Twenty sets of identical twins with mild high blood pressure (prehypertension) were involved in two different experiments, each lasting for eight weeks. By using twins, the researchers could increase the power of their data by eliminating some of the uncertainties caused by genetic variations between individual people.
In the first experiment, one group received 500 milligrams olive leaf extract while the other group received lifestyle advice only. In the second experiment, one group received 500 milligrams olive leaf extract per day while the other group received 1000 milligrams. Blood pressure and cholesterol, along with heart rate, weight, and blood sugar were measured at the start and at several time points throughout the study.
Cholesterol Benefits Too
By the end of the two months, participants who received the high-dose of olive leaf extract experienced a significant decrease in blood pressure. In those taking 1000 mg per day the average systolic blood pressure dropped from 137 mmHg to 126 mmHg and the average diastolic blood pressure was reduced from 80 mmHg to 76mmHg. Blood pressure remained unchanged in the low-dose and advice-only groups.
Cholesterol levels also decreased in those that received high dose olive leaf extract as well as in those that took only 500 mg. Reductions in low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) was found to be dose-dependent when pairs of twins were compared. That is, the 1000 mg dose lowered LDL-C more than the 500 mg dose.
Olive Leaf Extract Pitted Against Common Prescription Drug
The second study was larger and involved patients with stage 1 hypertension rather than prehypertension. In this double-blind, randomized, controlled clinical trial, olive leaf extract was compared to Captopril, an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor commonly used for the treatment of hypertension.
A total of 232 subjects took either 500 mg olive leaf extract as a supplement for high blood pressure or the standard Captopril dose (12.5 to 25 mg -depending on initial response) twice daily for eight weeks.
After eight weeks of treatment, both groups experienced similar, significant reductions in blood pressure. In both groups, average systolic blood pressures decreased from 148-149 mmHg to 135-138 mmHg and average diastolic blood pressures decreased from 93 mmHg to 87-88 mmHg.
But, the olive leaf benefits exceeded that of Captopril in that the olive leaf extract group also experienced statistically significant reductions in triglyceride levels, with an average reduction of 7.8 percent. They also experienced decreases of 2.8 percent in total cholesterol and 2.9 percent in low-density lipoprotein (LDL).Those taking the Captopril received no benefits to their cholesterol or triglyceride levels.
An Added Bonus…
Olive leaf extract is not only a supplement for high blood pressure and cholesterol, there’s evidence for its ability to treat diabetes as well.
Research indicates olive leaf extract also treats a third risk factor for heart disease: high blood sugar and insulin in type 2 diabetics. A daily dose of 500 mg olive leaf extract significantly lowered average blood sugar and insulin levels is a double-blind study in 79 type 2 diabetic adults.
While there are many useful supplements for the effective natural treatment of hypertension and high cholesterol, olive leaf extract is possibly unique in its ability to treat both conditions at once. Impressively, it also appears to be a safe and effective natural treatment for diabetes.
If you want to get all of these olive leaf benefits, aim for a dose of 500 mg twice a day. For more ideas on how to enhance your cholesterol and blood pressure control, browse our topics, Heart Health.
In addition to using olive leaf as a supplement for high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, olive leaf benefits patients with the flu or other pathogenic infections as it is a powerful immune booster. Learn more about these olive leaf benefits here.
This post originally appeared in 2013 and has been updated.