Olive oil may be a staple in most of our kitchens, but it isn’t the olive tree’s only valuable offering. Cue olive leaf extract, an impressive supplement that offers a bunch of health-boosting qualities.
As the name suggests, olive leaf extract is derived from the leaf of the olive tree, found throughout the Mediterranean, as well as in parts of Asia and Africa. Olive leaves, sought for their medicinal properties, are thought to have been used as far back as Ancient Egypt, where they were also employed in mummification, but in the last half of the twentieth century, health researchers began to pay closer attention to the potential cleansing properties of olive leaf extract, according to the journal Scientia Pharmaceutica.
Much of the olive leaf’s power comes from oleuropein. Oleuropein is a seco-iridoid, which is a plant-derived compound, known for its cardioprotective, antioxidant, and immune effects. The difference between olive oil (which comes from the olive) and olive leaf extract (which comes from the leaves): The leaves contains very high levels of the main bioactive goods.
Here’s a breakdown of olive leaf extract’s perks:
Immune System Support
Rebecca Lee, RN and founder of Remedies for Me (a site providing natural remedies and healthy living advice), says that she recommends (and personally uses) olive leaf extract supplements to promote healthiness.
Science backs that up, too: Frontiers in Microbiology suggests that olive leaf extract can help boost our immune systems. One of the reasons the extract is so potent? According to Brian Tanzer, M.S., C.N.S., manager of scientific affairs for The Vitamin Shoppe, olive leaf extract also contains hydroxytyrosol, a phytochemical, which has antioxidant and immune-supporting benefits.
According to an animal study done by Yonsei University in Korea, olive leaf extract can help to support a stable weight. This study followed mice on high-fat diets, with one group receiving an olive leaf extract supplement, over the course of eight weeks. At the end of the trial, the group receiving the supplement experienced significantly less weight gain than the other mice in the study.
More research has to be done on humans, but many olive leaf extract advocates tout its effect on maintaining a healthy weight (although this could also be part and parcel of a mostly-Mediterranean diet).
According to Phytomedicine, a twice-a-day regimen of 500 mg of olive leaf extract supported improvements for people with blood pressure issues. The study showed that there was also a significant reduction in triglycerides.
Because of olive leaf’s power players—oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol—it has been found to support cardiovascular health. According to Frontiers in Nutrition, hydroxytyrosol helps protect the bad cholesterol (LDL) against oxidation (process marked by the loss of electrons).
Daily use of high dosages of olive leaf extract were found to have a significant effect on aging skin, according to a study by the Ehime University Graduate School of Medicine.
Want to get in on the olive leaf goodness? Most supps offer 500-1000 mg, and will require you to take a capsule one to three times per day. You can also buy liquid olive leaf extract, which will require 30 drops into water.