How the Mediterranean Diet with olive oil shields the human body against COVID-19


By C.A. Demopoulos, Emeritus Professor of the University of Athens, Member of the Scientific Society of Olive Encyclopaidists (4E)

 This article is a supplement to the article in the magazine “OLIVE & OLIVE OIL” issue 94, entitled “For a healthy diet during COVID-19: Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 Disease, Platelet Activating Factor (PAF)  and Food “.

As stated in my article in the journal “Olive & Olive Oil”, our research team, in an effort to contribute in this direction, had a new -internationally- approach to the subject and developed a new theory proposing involvement in COVID-19 disease of the much powerful inflammatory factor Platelet-Activating Factor, PAF. This theory completes the mechanism of entry of the virus into the cells, but also explains all the complications of COVID-19 disease. This article, however, includes the bibliographic data up to the day the article was written, ie a few months ago. Science and research, however, are running and new data are being presented on every subject. So on this subject there have been publications in scientific journals that thoroughly review the topic that is specifically mentioned in the section “Nutrition and COVID-19” of my above article. Essentially, these data analyze, reinforce and confirm with bibliographic references what is mentioned in this section.

For example, articles focusing on the nutrients of the food and the Mediterranean diet [1] or olive oil and its active ingredients [2] have been published in the form of “pre-prints”, ie not peer-reviewed articles as the ones published in scientific journals, but deposited in “repositories” to ensure the originality of thought. These articles are then submitted for publication in a scientific journal and go through the current crisis process which is time consuming and takes a few months until they are published and the “knowledge” reaches the public. In these “pre-prints” articles, where the bibliographic references reinforce and analyze what is mentioned exactly in the section “Nutrition and COVID-19”, the following are specifically mentioned:

The article which focuses on the nutrients of food and in particular the Mediterranean diet [1], reviews the nutrients of food and in particular of the Mediterranean diet and olive oil, which are inhibitors of PAF, with potential anti-COVID-19 activity. In fact, some of these nutrients have already been suggested and reported in the literature by other researchers as having a beneficial effect in preventing and / or reducing the harmful effects of the  COVID-19 pandemic. In conclusion, a healthy diet is recommended, but including as many foods as possible that contain PAF inhibitors.

The article which focuses on olive oil and its active ingredients [2], mentions – with specific references – in detail the already known biological actions of many components of olive oil related to their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticoagulant action, their ability to affect the body’s immune response, their ability to have (in various ways) antimicrobial and antiviral action, as well as their ability to limit the “storm” of cytokines that cause many diseases and side effects from the effects of pathogenic microbes and viruses. In some of these references there are indications that these olive oil compounds may also have a beneficial and / or protective effect against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

However, all these olive oil compounds have the common feature of being PAF inhibitors. Regardless of their structure, ie whether they are phytochemical components (phenolic compounds) or glycerylether -glycolipoids. All the above compounds are included in the fraction of “polar lipids” of olive oil, since they are extracted and isolated from olive oil with “polar solvents”. The most active PAF inhibitors of this fraction of the polar olive oil lipids, belong to the glycolipid class. In addition, PAF glycolipoid inhibitors do not present the various problems [3] that phenolic compounds present. This common feature of PAF inhibition is explained by our theory with the mechanism we propose for the pathophysiology of COVID-19 disease, as described extensively in our publications [4,5].

However, to date no drug has been found to protect / treat COVID-19. Therefore, the search for “herbal medicines” should not be considered as an unscientific or unserious approach to the subject [6]. Although “herbal medicines” have been used since the Neanderthal era, there was a sharp increase after thalidomide (1960s) when chemical / synthetic medicines were blamed for many side effects. Today, herbal medicines make up 75%, while 70% of the medicines used as modern remedies are of natural origin.

For example: 60% of anti-cancer drugs on the market come from natural products. 80% of immunosuppressants, cardiovascular, antimicrobial are based on plant sources. 25-30% of prescription drugs worldwide come from natural products. Finally, out of the 252 drugs in the WHO main drug list, 30 drugs come from natural sources. All of these either use the natural form of the active substance directly (after isolation and purification) or use synthetic analogues developed for substances derived from plant sources.


[1] Micronutrients, Non-Nutrients and Mediterranean Diet: A Potential Protective Role Against COVID-19 through Modulation of PAF Actions and Metabolism.

Detopoulou, P.; Demopoulos, C.; Antonopoulou, S.

Preprints 2020, 2020120343 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202012.0343.v1).

Abstract: The new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is an emerging situation with high rates of morbidity and mortality, in the pathophysiology of which inflammation and thrombosis are implicated. The disease is directly connected to the nutritional status of patients and a wellbalanced diet is recommended by official sources. Recently, the role of platelet activating factor (PAF) was suggested in the pathogenesis of COVID-19. In the present review several micronutrients (vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D, selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, minerals), phytonutrients and Mediterranean diet compounds (olive oil, fish, honey, plant foods)  with potential anti-COVID activity are presented. We further underline that the wellknown anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic actions of the investigated nutrients and/ or holistic dietary schemes, such as the Mediterranean diet, are also mediated through PAF. In conclusion, although there is no single food to prevent coronavirus, the aim is to follow  healthy diet containing PAF inhibitors in order to target both inflammation and thrombosis and try to avoid or/and reduce the deleterious effects of the COVID-19 epidemic.

[2 ]  Therapeutic Potential of Olive’s Bioactive Compounds in COVID-19 Disease Management: A Review.

Chandrashekharaiah P. S et al.

AIJR Preprints, 269, Version 1, 2020.

Abstract: In this present time the world is continuously discovering effective treatment strategies for controlling the Coronavirus disease – 2019 (COVID-19). Many researchers have focused on designing drugs which can affect replication or protease activity of coronavirus. The clinical testing and regulatory approvals for these drugs will take time. However, currently there is an urgent requirement of treatment strategies which are safe, effective and can be implemented through readily available products in market. Many plant derived products rich in secondary metabolites having potential health benefits and antimicrobial properties. The olive plant leaf extracts and olive oil are rich sources of secondary metabolites such as phenols (oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol) and terpenoids (oleanolic, maslinic and ursolic acid). These compounds have been used as an effective antiviral agents in the past. The phenolics affect the virus attachment and replication. Whereas, the terpenoids mainly affects the membrane fluidity of the virus. In the recent molecular docking studies, it was found that, these compounds effectively bound to Mpro and 3CLpro protease sites of SARS-CoV-2 and were predicted to affect the replication of the SARS-CoV-2. Apart from antiviral properties, these bioactive compounds possess various other pharmacological properties such as anti-inflammatory, anti-modulatory, anti-thrombotic and anti-oxidative. The olive oil is consumed as a source of dietary fat and is the secret behind the good health in Mediterranean people. The consumption of olive oil is safe and is believed to increase the immunity against various infectious microbes. Hence olive products can be explored in management of COVID-19. In this review the various properties of phenolic and terpenoid compounds found in olives were discussed in the context of COVID-19.

[3] Coronavirus 2019, Microthromboses, and Platelet Activating Factor (PAF).

Theoharides T.C, Antonopoulou S, Demopoulos C.A.

Clinical Therapeutics, 2020, 42, 10.

[4] COVID-19, microthromboses, inflammation and Platelet Activating Factor (PAF)

Demopoulos CA, Antonopoulou S, Theoharides TC,

BioFactors. 2020;1–7.

[5]  Luteolin supplements: All that glitters is not gold

Theoharis C. Theoharides

EDITORIAL, BioFactors. 2020;1–3. DOI: 10.1002/biof.1689

[6] Are herbal drugs effective in COVID management? A review to demystify the current facts and claims

Mohd Riyaz Beg, Barira Siddiqui, Pramod Waghmare, Shital Ghodinde, Snehal Bikkad

DOI: 10.14293/S2199-1006.1.SOR-.PPXFIF7.v2