The use of the products derived from the olive tree on human health dates back centuries. In several civilizations, the olive tree had and still has a very strong cultural and religious symbolism. Notably, the official seal and emblem of the World Health Organization features the rod of Asclepius over a world map surrounded by olive tree branches, chosen as a symbol of peace and health. Recently, accumulating experimental, clinical and epidemiological data have provided support to the traditional beliefs of the beneficial effect provided by olive derivates. In particular, the polyphenols present in olive leaves, olives, virgin (unrefined) olive oil and olive mill waste are potent antioxidant and radical scavengers with anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties. Here, we review the positive impact on human health of oleuropein, the most prevalent polyphenol present in olives. In addition, we provide data collected in our laboratory on the role of oleuropein in counteracting lipid accumulation in a mouse model of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
olive, oleuropein, Mediterranean diet, polyphenols, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease