In order to understand the scope of Hydroxytyrosol, first we have to explain what antioxidants and free radicals are.
Free radicals are very reactive chemical species, and harmful to the body, when they are in a situation of imbalance, that is, when their number increases what our body is able to eliminate with its endogenous antioxidants.
An excess of oxidants against antioxidants causes the appearance of oxidative stress and cellular damage, a situation that is aggravated under certain circumstances such as intense physical exercise, stress, pollution, smoking, alcoholism, poor nutrition and exposure to solar radiation. Many of the most common human diseases are the result of the action of free radicals against cells, proteins, etc.
Antioxidants, in turn, are compounds that inhibit or retard the oxidation of certain molecules, preventing the initiation or propagation of oxidative reactions in chain caused by free radicals. As consequence, the contribution of antioxidants to the body is fundamental to protect cells against oxidative stress.
Hydroxytyrosol, in particular, is a highly bioavailable phytochemical with a high antioxidant capacity, responsible for most of the benefits of olive polyphenols in health.
- Prevention of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). The cardioprotective capacity of Hydroxytyrosol is endorsed by the EFSA with a health claim for its inhibitory activity on the oxidation of LDL lipoproteins, which leads to diseases such as atherosclerosis. HT also inhibits platelet aggregation that occurs in thrombosis, and protects from cell death induced by reactive oxygen intermediates (as it happens in situations of ischemia).
- Anti-inflammatory. HTY has been shown to inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory compounds caused by human leukocytes such as leukotrienes.
- Anti-aging. The antioxidant capacity of Hydroxytyrosol is superior to other antioxidants such as vitamin C and E. It plays an important role in delaying cellular aging processes as blocking the appearance of external signs such as wrinkles, sagging and spots. And due to the fact that HTY contains lipophilic and hydrophilic properties, Hydroxytyrosol turns to be a molecule very suitable for cosmetic use.
- Antimicrobial. Because it has potent antimicrobial properties against different types of bacteria, viruses and fungi.
- Anticancer. For its chemopreventive properties (try to reduce the risk, delay the cancer or prevent it from returning). This is because HT is able to inhibit the initiation and promotion phases of carcinogenesis. This prevents DNA damage induced by different genotoxic species and induces cell death in different tumor lines, such as breast and colon cancer.
- Protection against UV radiation. Hydroxytyrosol is able to prevent damage on melanoma cells when humans are exposed to harmful UV radiation. This is because HT reduces, significantly, the breakdown of DNA strands caused by UVB radiation. The reason is the capacity of this molecule to inhibit the proliferation of reactive species caused by incident radiation.
- Prevention of neurodegenerative diseases. Several studies suggest that reactive oxygen species (ROS) are involved in the etiology of a number of degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular, diabetes, cancer or Alzheimer’s. In this case, Hydroxytyrosol exerts an antioxidant protection against the oxidative damage induced by several types of reactive species of oxygen and nitrogen in the nervous tissue.
- Protection against ARMD (age-related macular degeneration). This is a disease related to age and other harmful effects such as smoking, which causes blindness in people over 55 years. Hydroxytyrosol properties such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and protection of the pigment epithelium, minimize the appearance and development of this disease.