More and more, the supplement industry and media are focusing on natural ways to lose weight.
There’s now a big focus on nutrient-led dietary approaches and emphasis on the best quality supplements – those containing ingredients that support well-being as well as weight loss.
The Mediterranean diet is thought to be one of the healthiest diets you can follow. It not only reduces the risk of long-term disease, but helps to prolong your lifespan too.
But could one of it’s main foods, olive leaf, be the key to a better body composition?
In this article we take a look.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What is olive leaf extract?
- The health benefits
- Animal studies
- Human research – does olive leaf boost fat loss?
What is Olive Leaf?
Olive leaf extract is a supplement that comes from the leaves of olive plants or Olea europaea.
They are a vivid silvery green in color and have a bitter and astringent taste when eaten.
This extract is different to olive oil though in that it comes specifically from the leaf and not the olive fruit.
Whilst olive oil is better known for its flavor and varied cooking uses, the leaf is more known for its health benefits. It was even mentioned in the Bible as a blessed fruit for its rich nutrient profile.
High in antioxidants
The root of olive benefits comes from its varied nutrient profile and is characterized by its carbohydrate, monounsaturated fatty acid and sugar alcohol content.
But its real key to health lies in its high levels of antioxidants. These are chemicals that slow down or prevent the effects of cell damage.
The main bioactive antioxidant found in the extract of olive leaf is oleuropein. It accounts for about 14% of the supplement , although interestingly it’s found in much lower quantities in olive oil.
Oleuropein is a phytochemical that is in part responsible for giving olives their pungency. It is also a marker of how mature the fruit is too, with levels peaking as the fruit ages, then slowly dying down as it passes its best.
Other active ingredient found in olive leaf include polyphenols and flavonoids. You’ll also find hydroxytyrosol, oleanolic acid and mannitol. These are also health-giving compounds that promote overall well-being.
Together these compounds are responsible for the health benefits associated with the Mediterranean style approach to diet.
The Mediterranean Diet Health Benefits
Olives are a big part of the traditional Mediterranean diet.
Alongside other vegetables and a moderate amount of protein and fish, olive oil is in part responsible for many human health benefits.
As well as the oil, olive leaf has also been used in traditional Mediterranean medicine for hundreds of years.
Olive products reduce the risk cardiovascular disease – partly due to their fatty acid profile and partly due to their antioxidant capabilities .
Diets rich in oleuropein have been found to increase anti-inflammatory benefits that can in turn improve heart and vascular health. This antioxidant also helps to keep your arteries free of harmful debris and cellular sludge as well .
Here is a list of other benefits to a Mediterranean diet:
- Protects your liver
- Reduces risk of certain cancers
- Improves blood lipid profile
- Antiviral and antimicrobial benefits
- Improves brain health
And whilst these benefits are not solely due to olive consumption, it certainly contributes.
Olive oil and olive leaf extract are renowned natural, traditional remedies used for the treatment of different conditions.
Key Point: Olive leaf forms part of a healthy Mediterranean diet that can improve heart health, cognitive function and reduce your risk of degenerative disease.
Does Olive Leaf Boost Weight Loss?
There isn’t much research available on olive leaf extract and weight loss. And that’s why it’s not really been that popular in the supplement industry until now.
The first real nudge that olive leaf might help with weight loss was recently published in the Journal of Nutrition .
In the study, a small group of male Wistar rats were fattened up over a 16-week period. They were then given feed that included 3% olive leaf. And after a period of time, the extract helped the rats to lose weight and belly fat.
Sounds great. But…
It’s worth noting thought that the research was funded by a pharmaceutical company based in Australia that directly manufactures and sells olive products. Its in there interest to shed a positive light on the products that they are selling.
And just because an animal study reports one benefit, doesn’t mean that human research follows suit…
Olive Leaf Doesn’t Result in Weight Loss in Human Trials
To date there have been very few human trials using olive extract to look directly at weight loss. For less than the ones that look at disease risk or heart health.
But one in particular did. It was a study published in PLoS One  and it analyzed the effects of olive leaf polyphenols on 46 overweight men.
Over a 12-week period, researchers gave the men an extract that contained 51 mg of oleuropein and measured everything from insulin sensitivity to blood pressure. They also wanted to analyze any effects on body composition on body weight too.
The results found that the group of volunteers improved their blood glucose response to food by 15%. But that was all. There was no change to body composition or weight loss.
This led the researchers to conclude that whilst the supplement could be beneficial to diabetics, it did not help with weight loss.
Key Point: Olive leaf has been seen to help rats lose weight, but not humans. More research is needed before firm conclusions can be made about its reliability.
Olive leaf extract contains a number of bioactive compounds, the most abundant being oleuropein.
Famed for it’s ability to improve metabolic and cardiovascular health, olive leaf has been found to boost weight loss in one rat study. But evidence is lacking when it comes to human trials – and the ones that have been conducted don’t show positive results.
We suggest that until more robust clinical research is made available, you opt for a better supplement with a much stronger nutrient profile.
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- Guinda, Á et al. Determination of major bioactive compounds from olive leaf. LWT – Food Science and Technology. 2015; 64(1): 431-438
- Gimeno, E et al. Changes in the phenolic content of low density lipoprotein after olive oil consumption in men. A randomized crossover controlled trial. Br J Nutr. 2007; 98(6): 1243-504
- Barbaro, B et al. Effects of the Olive-Derived Polyphenol Oleuropein on Human Health. Int J Mol Sci. 2014; 15(10): 18508–18524
- Poudyal, H et al. Olive leaf extract attenuates cardiac, hepatic, and metabolic changes in high carbohydrate, high fat-fed rats. J Nutr, 2010; 140(5): 946-53
- de Bock, M et al. Olive (Olea europaea L.) leaf polyphenols improve insulin sensitivity in middle-aged overweight men: a randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial. PLoS One. 2013; 8(3): e57622