Olive oil polyphenols enhance high-density lipoprotein function in humans: A randomized controlled trial

Álvaro Hernáez, Sara Fernández-Castillejo, Marta Farràs, Úrsula Catalán, Isaac Subirana, Rosa Montes, Rosa Solà, Daniel Muñoz-Aguayo, Anna Gelabert-Gorgues, Óscar Díaz-Gil, Kristiina Nyyssönen, Hans Joachim F. Zunft, Rafael De La Torre, Sandra Martín-Peláez, Anna Pedret, Alan T. Remaley, María Isabel Covas, Montserrat Fitó

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

124 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE - Olive oil polyphenols have shown beneficial properties against cardiovascular risk factors. Their consumption has been associated with higher cholesterol content in high-density lipoproteins (HDL). However, data on polyphenol effects on HDL quality are scarce. We, therefore, assessed whether polyphenol-rich olive oil consumption could enhance the HDL main function, its cholesterol efflux capacity, and some of its quality-related properties, such HDL polyphenol content, size, and composition. APPROACH AND RESULTS - A randomized, crossover, controlled trial with 47 healthy European male volunteers was performed. Participants ingested 25 mL/d of polyphenol-poor (2.7 mg/kg) or polyphenol-rich (366 mg/kg) raw olive oil in 3-week intervention periods, preceded by 2-week washout periods. HDL cholesterol efflux capacity significantly improved after polyphenol-rich intervention versus the polyphenol-poor one (+3.05% and -2.34%, respectively; P=0.042). Incorporation of olive oil polyphenol biological metabolites to HDL, as well as large HDL (HDL2) levels, was higher after the polyphenol-rich olive oil intervention, compared with the polyphenol-poor one. Small HDL (HDL3) levels decreased, the HDL core became triglyceride-poor, and HDL fluidity increased after the polyphenol-rich intervention. CONCLUSIONS - Olive oil polyphenols promote the main HDL antiatherogenic function, its cholesterol efflux capacity. These polyphenols increased HDL size, promoted a greater HDL stability reflected as a triglyceride-poor core, and enhanced the HDL oxidative status, through an increase in the olive oil polyphenol metabolites content in the lipoprotein. Our results provide for the first time a first-level evidence of an enhancement in HDL function by polyphenol-rich olive oil.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2115-2119
Number of pages5
JournalArteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • diet
  • high-density lipoproteins
  • olive oil


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