A compound found in extra-virgin olive oil inhibits the activity of COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes, acting in the same way as ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Inflammation plays a major role in a number of chronic diseases. Gary Beauchamp, Ph.D., of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, noticed that a particular olive oil irritated his throat in exactly the same way as ibuprofen. He and his colleagues reproduced the irritant compound synthetically to confirm their thoughts. They speculated that olive oil, mainstay of the Mediterranean diet associated with so many health benefits, may be a key factor in that diet’s success.
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