Interest in the Mediterranean diet (MD) has grown worldwide. Despite the high complexity of its nutrients composition, olive oil emerges as its principal food, since it provides the higher percentage of energy and a lot of bioactive compounds.
In this review, we will discuss the benefits of diets enriched in virgin olive oil, whose effects are probably due not only to its oleic acid content but also to its other potentially health-promoting components.
Traditionally, the benefits of MD were linked to its effect on lipoprotein metabolism, but today we realise that there exists a whole sheaf of other benefits, including the components of haemostasis: platelet function, thrombogenesis and fibrinolysis.
A diet enriched in virgin olive oil can reduce the sensitivity of platelets to aggregation, decreasing von Willebrand and thromboxane B2 plasma levels. Moreover, a particular interest has aroused about its capacity to decrease fasting factor VII plasma levels and to avoid or modulate its postprandial activation. In addition, tissue factor expression in mononuclear cells could be reduced with the chronic intake of virgin olive oil, and finally, studies performed in different experimental situation have shown that it could also increase fibrinolytic activity, reducing plasma concentration of plasma activator inhibitor type-1 (PAI-1).
The MD is an alimentary model with a high content of monounsaturated fats that is capable of inducing a wide range of biological effects on the cardiovascular system. The application of modern focuses of study will dilucidate in the future the biological and clinical interest of these findings.