Eating olive oil may help burn victims heal faster, according to new research. Subjects in the study, who had suffered burns on 10 to 20 percent of their body, who consumed olive oil healed more than a day faster than patients in the group who did not eat olive oil.
The study included 104 patients with deep second-degree wounds. Of the 104 subjects, 100 completed the study, 50 in the olive oil group and 50 in the control group. (Two people dropped out due to an intolerance to the odor of olive oil.) The patients received similar wound care treatment and pain management meds. Their diets were the same as well, except one group consumed olive oil, and the other, sunflower oil. They all ate a diet composed of 20 percent protein, 60 percent carbohydrates and 20 percent lipids. They remained on these diets until they were dismissed from the hospital.
The mean duration of wound healing was 7.2 ± 0.5 days in the olive oil group compared with 8.7 ± 0.5 days in the control group (P=0.04). The olive oil eaters left the hospital sooner, too. The mean number of days spent in the hospital was 7.4 ± 0.5 in the olive oil group compared with 8.9 ± 0.4 in the control group (P=0.05).
The authors conclude that "an oral diet provided with olive oil in patients with burn may accelerate wound healing and decrease the duration of hospitalization."
Why? The authors think it’s probably the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, like polyphenols, tocopherols and sterols, in the oil. Previous research has suggested that eating a virgin olive oil-based breakfast may reduce effects of genes that promote inflammation.