ISMNT News #36. Dietary olive oil has various beneficial actions and appears to be superior to highly unsaturated fatty acids. An important piece of information is the finding that monounsaturated fatty acids can reduce the expression of intercellular adhesion molecule 1 which is involved in various detrimental cardiovascular events. The study shows also that inflammatory diseases have been underrated as targets of nutritional interventions.


The key reference is by:

Yaqoob P, Knapper JA, Webb DH, Williams CM, Newsholme EA, Calder PC

Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Am J Clin Nutr 1998 Jan;67(1):129-135

Effect of olive oil on immune function in middle-aged men.


Consumption of diets rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) has been linked with a low prevalence of atherosclerosis and there has been great interest in the effects of MUFAs on lipoprotein metabolism. Less attention has been paid to the effects of MUFAs on the immune system, yet cells of the immune system are an inherent part of the inflammatory events involved in atherosclerosis and several animal studies showed that olive oil has some potent immunomodulatory actions. We therefore considered it important to investigate the effects of chronic consumption of MUFAs on several immune cell functions in healthy humans.


Healthy middle-aged males entered a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial in which they consumed either a MUFA diet or a control diet for 2 mo. There was a significant decrease in the expression of intercellular adhesion molecule 1 by peripheral blood mononuclear cells from subjects consuming the MUFA diet. Consumption of the MUFA diet did not affect natural killer cell activity or proliferation of mitogen-stimulated leukocytes.


The effects of a MUFA-rich diet on adhesion molecule expression may have implications for the influence of dietary fat on inflammatory diseases, including atherosclerosis.