Cardio-metabolic and immunological impacts of extra virgin olive oil consumption in overweight and obese older adults: a randomized controlled trial

Nutr Metab (Lond). 2015 Aug 7;12:28. doi: 10.1186/s12986-015-0022-5. eCollection 2015.


Background: Both aging and obesity are related to dysregulated immune function, which may be responsible for increased risk of infection and also chronic non-infectious diseases. Dietary lipids have been shown to impact immune and inflammatory responses and cardio-metabolic risk factors. No information on the impact of olive oil on immune responses of overweight and obese older adults is available.

Objective: We aimed to determine the effect of replacing oils used in a typical American diet with extra virgin olive oil for 3 months on immune responses and cardio-metabolic risk factors in overweight and obese older adults.

Methods: This was a randomized, single-blinded and placebo-controlled trial in 41 overweight or obese participants (aged ≥ 65) who consumed a typical American diet. Participants in the control (CON, n = 21) group were provided with a mixture of corn, soybean oil and butter, and those in the olive oil (OO, n = 20) group, with extra virgin olive oil, to replace substitutable oils in their diet. At baseline and 3 months, we measured blood pressure, biochemical and immunological parameters using fasting blood, and delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) skin response.

Results: Compared to the CON group, the OO group showed decreased systolic blood pressure (P < 0.05), a strong trend toward increased plasma HDL-C concentrations (P = 0.06), and increased anti-CD3/anti-CD28 -stimulated T cell proliferation (P < 0.05). No differences were found in T cell phenotype, cytokine production, and DTH response between the two groups.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that substitution of oils used in a typical American diet with extra virgin olive oil in overweight and obese older adults may have cardio-metabolic and immunological health benefits. This trial was registered at as NCT01903304.

Keywords: Aging; Cardio-metabolic; Immune response; Obesity; Olive oil.

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