Recent studies show that the elderly have increased oxidative stress and impaired antioxidant defense systems. Our study aims to evaluate the effects of daily consumption of EVOO in the healthy institutionalized elderly. We studied anthropometric, biochemical and antioxidant parameters in 62 subjects aged 65-96 years after a 6-week daily intake of polyphenol-rich EVOO with high oleuropein derivative contents. Subjects were divided into a control group (CG) who maintained their dietary habits (n=39) and an olive group (OG) who consumed EVOO as the only added fat, plus a daily dose of 50ml (n=23). We found a significant reduction of total cholesterol (TC), HDL, LDL and TGs in OG subjects and a significant increase of HDL levels. There was no significant variation in the CG parameters. In OG the total antioxidant capacity (TAC) in plasma increased with significant differences over CG. Plasma hydroxytyrosol (OH-Tyr) concentration showed a significant increase after EVOO intervention. Daily consumption of EVOO was found to have positive effects on lipid profiles, OH-Tyr levels and TAC. The results also show a significant increase of catalase (CAT) in erythrocytes and a decrease (p<0.05) in superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GH-PX) activity after EVOO intake. To our knowledge, no other study has examined the effects of EVOO consumption on biochemical parameters, antioxidant capacity and antioxidant enzyme activity in healthy elderly subjects. In conclusion, our results show that nutritional intervention with EVOO improves antioxidant status in healthy elderly people.
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