Effect of virgin and refined olive oil consumption on gut microbiota. Comparison to butter

Food Res Int. 2014 Oct;64:553-559. doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2014.07.030. Epub 2014 Jul 28.


There is increasing evidence of the health benefits of olive oil consumption in the diet. Some authors have studied the effect of high fat/high calorie diets and have detected changes on the microbiota. However, these studies are mainly based on saturated fats. Here we present a study on the specific effect on gut bacterial populations of extra virgin olive oil, rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and phenolic compounds, in comparison to refined olive oil, rich in monounsaturated fatty acids but low in phenolic compounds, and to butter, rich in saturated fatty acids and cholesterol. Four groups of animals were studied: one group of mice received a standard chow diet, and the other received three high fat diets, rich in extra virgin olive oil, refined olive oil or butter. Evolution of symbiont population in feces was studied using culture-dependent and culture-independent methods. In the latter, the V3 region of 16S rDNA was amplified and separated by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis; followed by sequencing of the most representative bands. Culture-dependent studies and comparison of the different DGGE profiles throughout the experiment demonstrated that different dietary fats had different effects on gut microbial composition. Butter-induced changes in the microbial counts resembled those previously described in obese individuals. Interestingly, a different behavior between extra virgin and refined olive oil was also observed, extra virgin olive oil being most different from butter. To our knowledge, no studies have analyzed gut microbiota depending on diets with different fatty acid saturations including different types of olive oil. This may offer new data supporting the benefits for health of extra virgin olive oil, so important in the Mediterranean diet.

Keywords: Butter; DGGE; Gut microbiota; Olive oil.