Mediterranean Diet: Essential Oils Incorporation Has Prebiotic Effects

by Lorraine Williamson
essential oils

New research on mice shows that essential oils from parsley, savory, and rosemary have positive effects on the intestinal microbiota of patients with ischemic heart disease and type 2 diabetes. 

Proper nutrition is essential in protecting patients from cardiovascular and metabolic risks. Therefore, a healthy diet allows for good control and treatment of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Researchers from the Virgen de la Victoria University Hospital in Malaga, the Malaga Biomedical Research Institute, the BIONAND Nanomedicine Platform, the University of Malaga, and the CIBERCV Cardiovascular Diseases Network have demonstrated that dietary supplementation with essential oils from parsley, savory, and rosemary has prebiotic effects on the intestinal microbiota of patients with ischemic heart disease and type 2 diabetes. 


In 2021, it was estimated that 537 million adults suffered from diabetes, reflecting a significant increase in recent years, mainly in type 2 diabetes. Moreover, this pathology causes a higher risk of ischemic heart disease and this is more premature and with a higher risk of complications, such as a higher inflammatory profile and deterioration of the immune system mediated by the intestinal microbiota. 

“We know that type 2 diabetes can significantly alter intestinal microbial populations in patients with ischemic heart disease, and that there is a growing interest in replacing pharmacological therapies with nutritional interventions and natural supplements, which would result in the safety and quality of life of our patients,” say the researchers of the new study. 

Essential oils protect against inflammation 

Their work demonstrates “that essential oils derived from aromatic plants used in the Mediterranean diet promote health and protect against inflammation and oxidative stress, processes that are frequently observed in cardiometabolic diseases,” explains Francisco Javier Pavón, a researcher at BIONAND Nanomedicine Platform, the Virgen de la Victoria University Hospital in Malaga, and the CIBERCV. 

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Probiotics and cardiovascular protectors 

The study is published in ‘Dietary Supplements in Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases.’ It was performed on humanised mice and demonstrated a decrease in intestinal microbial metabolites such as trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), related to cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, and an increase in thrombomodulin levels in those treated with essential oils from savoury and parsley. Those treated with parsley and rosemary showed a decrease in plasma cytokines. Additionally, treatment with essential oil emulsions produced a generalized reduction in inflammatory and oxidation markers in this humanised model. 

“The prebiotic effects of these emulsions with an increase in short-chain fatty acids and a reduction in TMAO also translate into a more favourable inflammatory state, which is very beneficial for cardiovascular health,” explains Manuel Jiménez, a researcher at Bionand Nanomedicine Platform, the Virgen de la Victoria University Hospital, and the CIBERCV. 

While the results are promising, the research team points to the need to extend and validate these studies with other patient groups “to better understand the modulation of the intestinal microbiota and physiological parameters related to these cardiometabolic diseases.” 

Mediterranean Diet 

The Mediterranean diet is a dietary pattern that is based on the traditional eating habits of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, such as Greece, Italy, and Spain. The diet typically emphasises a high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and olive oil. Furthermore, with moderate consumption of fish, poultry, and dairy products, and limited consumption of red meat and sweets. It also includes moderate consumption of red wine with meals. 

Related post: Mediterranean diet and a good sex life! 

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