Olive leaf tea is quickly becoming known as one of the best herbal teas for health. For centuries, people in the Mediterranean region have used olive tree leaves, which are the base ingredient for olive leaf tea, as part of their diet and in traditional medicines.
What is it about olive leaf tea that makes it one of the healthiest types of tea? Many of the health benefits of olive leaf tea come from compounds in the olive leaf called polyphenols. Polyphenols are micronutrients naturally found in plants that are full of antioxidants. Research has found that these polyphenols – specifically oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol – may protect against a range of health conditions.
Read on to learn about the biggest reported health benefits of olive leaf tea.**
The immune system is the body’s shield against diseases and infections. A robust immune system keeps the body healthy, but a weakened immune system makes a person more susceptible to bacteria, viruses and other microbial invaders. Research has found that the antiviral and antibacterial properties of olive leaf tea, specifically the compound oleuropein, help promote good health and strengthen the immune system by interrupting the bacteria or virus’s ability to replicate, thus preventing infection1.
Another way olive leaf tea helps boost the immune system is through its powerful combination of antioxidants. You may have learned from our previous blog [link to Facts About Olive Leaf Tea blog] that olive leaf tea has twice the amount of antioxidants as green tea and four times the amount of Vitamin C2. What you may not know is that antioxidants are free radical scavengers – they help stabilize these unstable atoms that form in our bodies, supporting cell health and strengthening our immune system3.
Antioxidant & Free Radical Fighter
The Mediterranean diet is associated with lower rates of chronic diseases and cancer-related deaths4, due in part to the high antioxidant content of the foods people consume on this diet– many of which are made from the leaves and fruit of the olive tree. The abundant antioxidants in olive leaves and olive leaf tea help fight free radicals in the body. As mentioned above, free radicals are unstable atoms that can damage cells and cause a variety of diseases, including atherosclerosis, cancer, inflammatory joint disease, asthma and diabetes. Research suggests that oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol, three of the most potent antioxidants present in olive leaf tea, are responsible for improving free radical stability5 and counteracting oxidative stress, which is the overproduction of free radicals in the body. By fighting cell damage commonly caused by these free radicals, the antioxidants in olive leaf tea work to reduce your risk of illness.
Improves Cardiovascular Health
Olive leaves have been used since ancient times to help improve cardiovascular health. The protective, disease fighting components of olive leaves have been shown to help support healthy cholesterol, normal blood pressure, and overall heart health.
Olive Leaf Tea & Cholesterol
According to the CDC, about 655,000 American die from heart disease every year. One of the highest risk factors for heart disease is atherosclerosis, which is the narrowing of arteries due to a buildup of cholesterol plaque. This plaque buildup can restrict blood flow and lead to clots. Researchers believe the polyphenols in olive leaves can lessen the effects of atherosclerosis by helping to reduce levels of LDL, or bad cholesterol. A 2015 study found that rats who were given olive leaf extract for eight weeks had significantly lower cholesterol levels6.
Olive Leaf Tea & Blood Pressure
Many people who have hypertension, or high blood pressure, don’t even know it because there are usually no symptoms. The American Heart Association estimates that nearly half of all adults in the United States have high blood pressure, which occurs when blood flows through the arteries at higher than normal pressure. This sustained high pressure can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and heart attack. According to recent research, the nutrients in olive leaves and olive leaf tea are effective in lowering both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. A 2017 study7 of pre-hypertensive males who were given either olive leaf extract or a placebo for six weeks found lower blood pressure in those consuming the olive leaf extract supplement, as well as reduced cholesterol and triglycerides.
Prevents & Treats Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic condition where sugar (or glucose) builds up in the bloodstream. Insulin, which is naturally produced by the body, normally helps move glucose from the blood into the cells to produce energy – but in Type 2 diabetes the body isn’t able to effectively do this, either because it doesn’t produce enough insulin or it resists the insulin it does produce. The body is then forced to get its energy from alternate sources, like muscles, tissues and organs, which can lead to symptoms like fatigue, hunger and excessive thirst. Research has found that the antioxidant-rich polyphenols in olive leaves can lower blood sugar and stabilize it to maintain healthy levels, helping to treat people with diabetes and possibly even prevent its onset. Studies also show that olive leaf extract can reduce the body’s insulin resistance8, one of the biggest risk factors for the disease.
Inflammation is the body’s way of fighting against things that harm it. When something damages your cells, the body releases chemicals and increases blood flow to the damaged area in an attempt to heal itself. This inflammation can last as little as a few hours or, in the case of chronic inflammation, may continue indefinitely, leaving your body in a constant state of alert. Over time, chronic inflammation can have damaging effects on the body. Research has found that hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein, two of the most important compounds found in olive leaves and olive leaf tea, have extensive anti-inflammatory properties. For example, in a double-blind trial9, people with osteoarthritis who were given olive leaf extract for four weeks had significantly improved pain due to a reduction of inflammation. According to the Journal of Functional Foods, oleuropein has a demonstrated ability to “decrease the inflammatory processes which represent the main cause of various chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers10.”
The Final Word
The question of what olive leaf tea is good for comes up often, especially with its continued rise in popularity. While much research exists to support the health benefits of olive leaf tea as an immune booster, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, protector of cardiovascular health and treatment for type 2 diabetes, it is still important to talk with your doctor before starting a new wellness product.
Ready to experience olive leaf tea benefits for yourself? Special Leaf olive leaf iced tea is available in four delicious flavors!
**FDA disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease
1. Alternative Medicine Review http://archive.foundationalmedicinereview.com/publications/12/1/25.pdf
2. Current Trends in Biomedical Engineering and Biosciences https://juniperpublishers.com/ctbeb/pdf/CTBEB.MS.ID.555889.pdf
3. Journal of Functional Foods https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464614002850?via%3Dihub#bib0050
4. Mediterranean Diet and Prevention of Chronic Diseases https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5625964/
5. International Journal of Molecular Sciences https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4227229/
6. Phytotherapy Research https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ptr.5445
7. European Journal of Nutrition https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5486627/#CR11
8. Functional Foods in Health and Disease https://www.ffhdj.com/index.php/ffhd/article/view/114/237
10. Journal of Functional Foods https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464614002850?via%3Dihub