A new study found that olive fruit water — a product rich in a powerful antioxidant called hydroxytyrosol — improved respiratory performance and post-exercise recovery in physically active people.
Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease by improving cholesterol levels and blood vessel function. What’s more, the polyphenols in olive oil have been shown to reduce the risk of cognitive decline in older adults.
On its own, olive oil appears to have significant health benefits. But a by-product, created when manufacturers process olives to make olive oil, may have some equally intriguing benefits for people who exercise.
The by-product — known as olive fruit water — is typically discarded during olive oil production. However, this substance contains polyphenols which may have antioxidant effects.
Scientists from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) recently investigated the effects of the commercially available olive water product called OliPhenolia may have on recreationally active people. OliPhenolia is a biodynamic and organic olive fruit water phyto-complex rich in hydroxytyrosol (HT).
Fattoria La Vialla, a biodynamic farm in Italy that makes the dietary supplement funded the research that appears in the publication, Nutrients.
To conduct the research, the team recruited 29 physically active people and had them consume either a placebo or OliPhenolia for 16 days. The participants then completed a demanding aerobic exercise protocol.
The research team found that OliPhenolia consumption improved respiratory factors at the start of exercise and oxygen intake and running ability at lower levels of exercise intensity.
However, respiratory parameters in the participants were mostly unaffected during higher-intensity exercise. Still, the participant’s perception of how hard they thought their body was working improved, as did their immediate recovery after the workout.
Lead author Justin Roberts, Ph.D., Associate Professor in Health & Exercise Nutrition at ARU, notes in a news release, "ours is the first study to investigate the use of this olive fruit water in an exercise setting, and we found that 16 days of supplementation could have a positive influence on aerobic exercise, most notably at submaximal levels."
"We now intend to carry out further research at Anglia Ruskin University to corroborate these findings. We are also looking to investigate whether this product can be used for marathon training and recovery, as well as test its effectiveness in suppressing inflammation associated with exercise,” Roberts adds.
What is hydroxytyrosol?
Hydroxytyrosol is a compound from the olive tree that scientists consider a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits. The compound has a bioavailability of 99% which means it’s easily integrated into the body when consumed. Moreover, in 2012, the European Food & Safety Authority (EFSA) accepted hydroxytyrosol as a compound that helps protect the cardiovascular system.
- American Heart Association. The benefits of adding a drizzle of olive oil to your diet.
- Nutrients. The Effect of a Hydroxytyrosol-Rich, Olive-Derived Phytocomplex on Aerobic Exercise and Acute Recovery
- Science Daily. Olive oil by-product could aid exercise.
- Medicines. Hydroxytyrosol: Health Benefits and Use as Functional Ingredient in Meat.