Olive Oil in ‘Mediterranean diet,’ not so much red wine, is linked to longer lifespan, new study says

Researchers discover a potential new way in which diet influences aging-related diseases.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School say they have discovered what looks like a new way in diet influences aging-related diseases.

“Doug Mashek, PhD, a professor in the Departments of Medicine and Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics, leads a team of researchers who discovered that olive oil in the Mediterranean diet may hold the key to improving lifespan and mitigating aging-related diseases,” reads the announcement out today. They’ve been working on this over the last 8 years, with NIH grants, and their research was recently published in Molecular Cell.
Here’s the journal link, which requires paid access.

Excerpt from the press release announcing publication of the research there:

Early studies on the diet suggested red wine was a major contributor to the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet because it contains a compound called resveratrol, which activated a certain pathway in cells known to increase lifespan and prevent aging-related diseases. However, work in Mashek’s lab suggests that it is the fat in olive oil, another component of the Mediterranean diet, that is actually activating this pathway.

That’s a big deal.

Go ahead and knock yourself out with buying olive oil, I love it and consume it daily.

But in the context of periodic fasting, excercise, and other habits, say the scientists. Just consuming olive oil is not enough to give you all the health benefits, say Mashek’s team.


His team’s studies suggest that when coupled with fasting, limiting caloric intake and exercising, the effects of consuming olive oil will be most pronounced.

“We found that the way this fat works is it first has to get stored in microscopic things called lipid droplets, which is how our cells store fat. And then, when the fat is broken down during exercising or fasting, for example, is when the signaling and beneficial effects are realized,” Mashek said.

The next steps for their research are to translate it to humans with the goal of discovering new drugs or to further tailor dietary regimens that improve health, both short-term and long-term.

“We want to understand the biology, and then translate it to humans, hopefully changing the paradigm of healthcare from someone going to eight different doctors to treat his or her eight different disorders,” Mashek said. “These are all aging-related diseases, so let’s treat aging.”

Here’s the press release:

Mediterranean diet ingredient may extend lifeOlive oil in the diet may also help mitigate aging-related diseases
Date: February 21, 2020
Source: University of Minnesota Medical School

And here is the full paper:

MOLECULAR CELL JOURNALVolume 77, ISSUE 4, P810-824.e8, February 20, 2020
Lipid Droplet-Derived Monounsaturated Fatty Acids Traffic via PLIN5 to Allosterically Activate SIRT1

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