Background and aims: Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for degenerative diseases, including cardiometabolic disorders and cancer. Research on fat and fatty acids’ type is attracting less attention than that on carbohydrates. High adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with a better prognosis. One characteristic of the Mediterranean diet is extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) as the foremost source of dietary fat. EVOO is different from other vegetable oils because it contains peculiar “minor” components, mainly phenolic in nature. Even though olive oil is highly caloric, unrestricted use of olive oil in the PREDIMED trial did not result in weight gain. We sought to study the effects of EVOO in an appropriate mouse model of increased body weight. Furthermore, we explored the biochemical and metabolomic responses to EVOO consumption. Methods and results: C57BL/6N male mice were weight-matched and fed ad libitum with the following diets, for 16 weeks: 1) saturated fatty acid diet (SFA) or 2) extra-virgin olive oil diet (EVOO), a custom-prepared diet, isocaloric compared to SFA, in which 82% of fat was replaced by high (poly)phenol EVOO. We evaluated glucose homeostasis, serum biochemistry and plasma metabolomics, in addition to cardiac and hepatic gene profile, and mitochondrial respiration rate. Conclusion: Replacing saturated fatty acids (e.g. lard) with EVOO translates into moderate yet beneficial cardiometabolic and hepatic effects. Future research will further clarify the mechanisms of action of EVOO (poly)phenols and their role in a balanced diet.
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