Virgin olive oil has been shown to improve osteocalcin levels
There was a time when olive oil was something you only really encountered while on holiday abroad, now it’s everywhere – drizzled on salads, asparagus or peppers, mopped up with crusty bread or mixed into pestos. And a good thing too, because even as it seems as though all the benefits of the oil must already have been found, new research reveals that it supports your bones too.
Researchers from the Hospital Dr Josep Trueta in Spain looked at data from a group of 127 randomly selected men aged between 55 and 80 to assess the effect of the Mediterranean diet on a specific serum – osteocalcin – that has a protective effect on bones. As the incidence of osteoporosis is lower in areas where people eat a Mediterranean-based diet, the researchers theorised that the diet might be linked to this difference. And it seems they could be right. The study participants were put into different groups, each with its own special diet – Mediterranean diet with mixed nuts, the same diet but with virgin olive oil and a low-fat diet.
After two years, the study participants who had had virgin olive oil along with the Mediterranean diet showed improved osteocalcin levels. They also showed other signs of improvements in bone strength, measured using other bone formation markers. Furthermore, serum calcium decreased significantly in the other two groups indicating that olive oil, when combined with the Mediterranean diet, seems to have the greatest effect.
Some Mediterranean meal ideas
Stuffed aubergines in olive oil
Baked salmon with olives
Grilled sea bream
Spinach and ricotta gnocchi with fresh tomato sauce