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It’s About “Thyme” to Protect Your DNA

Pull out that herby marinade—research has found that thyme-infused olive oil may be a rich source of antioxidant protection. The research, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, found that virgin olive oil enriched with polyphenols from olives and thyme increased the oil's DNA-protective effects above and beyond plain olive oil or olive oil enriched with just olive polyphenols. The study included 33 people, ages 35 to 80, with hyperlipidemia (high levels of blood lipids). For three weeks, the participants were randomly assigned to receive either 25 mL/day of virgin olive oil; 25 mL/day of virgin olive oil enriched with olive polyphenols; or 25 mL/day of virgin olive oil enriched with both olive and thyme polyphenols. Both enriched olive oils had roughly the same amount of total polyphenols. Each intervention was followed by a two-week break, after which the participants were assigned to receive a different kind of olive oil. After 15 weeks, researchers found that:

  • The decrease in 8-OHdG (a marker for DNA damage caused by oxidation) was ten times larger in the olive plus thyme polyphenol group, compared with the plain olive oil group.
  • The decrease in 8-OHdG was five times larger in the olive polyphenol group, compared with the plain olive oil group.

The researchers noted that the olive oil with added olive and thyme polyphenols may protect DNA from oxidative damage relatively well in part because of the greater bioavailability of thyme polyphenols. At the same time, they also state that further research is needed to verify exactly how the added thyme polyphenols exert their protective effect. Because previous research has already confirmed the health benefits of olive oil, even plain olive oil (extra virgin in particular) should be a healthy choice; and adding some thyme can’t hurt. To make it yourself, a typical ratio is two tablespoons of chopped herbs per cup of olive oil.

Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

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