Helicobacter pylori is linked to a majority of peptic ulcers and to some types of gastric cancer, and resistance of the microorganism to antibiotic treatment is now found worldwide. Virgin olive oil is an unrefined vegetable oil that contains a significant amount of phenolic compounds. Under simulated conditions, we have demonstrated that these substances can diffuse from the oil into the gastric juice and be stable for hours in this acidic environment. In vitro, they exerted a strong bactericidal activity against eight strains of H. pylori, three of them resistant to some antibiotics.
Among the phenolic compounds, the dialdehydic form of decarboxymethyl ligstroside aglycon showed the strongest bactericidal effect at a concentration as low as 1.3 g/mL. Although the experimental conditions are different from other reported works, this bactericidal concentration is much lower than those found for phenolic compounds from tea, wine, and plant extracts. These results open the possibility of considering virgin olive oil a chemopreventive agent for peptic ulcer or gastric cancer, but this bioactivity should be confirmed in vivo in the future.