Olive Oil May Protect Against Osteoporosis

Mediterranean diet enriched with olive oil increases bone building material in recent study

(RxWiki News) It has been said that you are what you eat. How does eating something rich and smooth like olive oil make your bones strong and healthy?

Studies show lower rates of osteoporosis along the Mediterranean basin where the average diet is rich in fruit and vegetables with a high intake of olive oil. Researchers have set out to find out why.

"Discuss any dietary changes you are considering with your doctor."

A recent study examined the ability of a diet rich in virgin olive oil to improve quantities of osteocalcin, a bone building protein, in elderly men with high cardiovascular risk. The study found that consumption of a olive oil increases osteocalcin and other bone markers.

Jose´ Manuel Fernandez-Real of of Hospital Dr. Josep Trueta in Girona, Spain and team studied 127 men aged 55 to 80 years. The participants were selected from PREDIMED, a controlled trial whose goal is to assess prevention of cardiovascular disease in association with the Mediterranean diet.

The subjects in this study did not have prior cardiovascular disease but did have a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes or at least three cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, or a family history of premature cardiovascular disease.

Participants were randomly assigned different diets and given advice by dietitians. Of the participants, 34 were on a low-fat control diet, 51 were on a Mediterranean diet enriched with nuts and 42 were on a Mediterranean diet enriched with virgin olive oil.

A short questionnaire regarding lifestyle, medical conditions and medication use was completed by the participants at the beginning of the study, at one year and again at two years.

The participants’ diets were reviewed once a year using a 137-item food frequency questionnaire and nutrient values were calculated using food composition tables.

Physical activity was also evaluated.

Fasting blood samples were used to measure blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides, bone markers such as osteocalcin and procollagen I N-terminal Propeptide (P1NP), resorption and insulin levels at the start of the study and after two years.

The researchers found that most measurements including body mass index, waist circumference, lipid profile, fasting insulin and bone formation were similar in all intervention groups.

However, the overall osteocalcin concentration for those in the Mediterranean Diet enriched with virgin olive oil increased significantly where it did not in the other groups. This result paralleled the measurements for PN1P.

In addition, blood calcium levels did not change in the olive oil group but decreased robustly in the other two groups.

The results of the study suggest that olive oil has a protective effect on the bone. Research on a more diverse group of participants is needed to better understand how olive oil affects bones in healthy people.

The study was published in the July issue of Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

This study was funded partially by research grants from the Ministerio de Educacio´n y Ciencia and CIBERobn.

One author on the study is a nonpaid member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Nut Council and another is an unpaid member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the California Walnut Commission. The authors report no other conflicts of interest.

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Review Date: 
August 16, 2012