Olive oil is no stranger to healthy diets. A core ingredient in the Mediterranean diet, it’s great for the brain, heart and skin, as well as in protecting against certain free radicals. And now, researchers have discovered another benefit of olive oil: protection against bone loss.
Bone loss occurs in all of us over time, even if we’re active and eat right. But according to the research, the incidence of bone loss and osteoporosis is lower throughout Europe and the Mediterranean basin where olive oil is a staple food.
A 2013 study looked at 188,795 subjects from eight European countries where the Mediterranean diet was common and found a lower risk of hip fractures occurred among the people eating a diet rich in olive oil.
Another study looked at elderly men over two years and found that among the test groups, only those who consumed at least 50 milliliters of virgin olive oil had increased their production of osteocalcin and procollagen I N-terminal propeptide procollagen. These serums have been connected with protection against bone loss.
“Furthermore, there is a positive association between intake of monounsaturated fatty acids and bone mineral density,” reports Olive Oil Times. A 2014 review paper that was published in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition found that “virgin olive oil phenols may also play a role in the prevention of osteoporosis,” Olive Oil Times notes.
Credit goes to oleuropein, a primary phenol in olive oil, which may not only prevent bone loss, but aid in the production of osteoblasts, bone producing cells. Studies have connected oleuropein to a reduction in osteoporosis symptoms, specifically in postmenopausal women, one of the highest risk groups.
According to Olive Oil Times, “in addition to protecting against heart disease and cancer, regular intake of virgin olive oil may be a simple but effective solution to preventing osteoporosis, which the World Health Organization has designated as the ‘second most healthcare problem worldwide after cardiovascular disease’.”
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