A new comprehensive review study, published by the Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry, shows how following a Mediterranean diet and consuming extra virgin olive oil might provide some protection against the worst effects of a Covid-19 infection, including cytokine storms and lung inflammation.
“In contrast with the potential beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet, Western diets are related to systemic inflammation, increased oxidative stress and lower immune response, and thus may increase the severity of Covid-19 patients,” the researchers wrote. “These effects are due to their high content of saturated fat, refined carbohydrates and sugar, and to their low content of fiber,” they added.
The researchers analyzed the properties of the polyphenols (in which extra virgin olive oil is rich), such as their antioxidant activity, which could control inflammation and the release of free radicals; and hydroxytyrosol is one of the most relevant phenols in extra virgin olive oil due to its ability to protect blood lipids from oxidative stress.
The flavonoids found in the Mediterranean diet were also investigated for their potentially beneficial impacts. “The antibacterial and anticancer properties of flavonoids are widely known. Moreover, these compounds, commonly found in the Mediterranean diet, have the ability to sequester free radicals,” the scientists wrote.
“This scientific information is valuable and suggests that the phenolic compounds of the Mediterranean diet may represent a potential protective factor against Covid-19. Still, caution must be taken when connecting preexisting data to this new infection”, the researchers added.
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Milton-Laskibar, I., Trepiana, J., Macarulla, M.T. et al. Potential usefulness of Mediterranean diet polyphenols against COVID-19-induced inflammation: a review of the current knowledge. J Physiol Biochem (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13105-022-00926-0