Olive oil is a main source of dietary fat in the Mediterranean diet, a region with lower rates of cardiovascular diseases compared to many other parts of the world. Research has indeed confirmed that the fatty acids and antioxidants in olive oil have significant health benefits, particularly in regard to reduced risk of heart disease and now improve bone health.
The main reason is that olive oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids. These are ‘good’ fatty acids which, compared to other fats, have been shown to have certain health benefits. An extensive review of studies on the biological and clinical effects of olive oil found that people who regularly consume olive oil are less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, and hyperlipidemia (high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels). The researchers also found that regular olive oil intake helps reduce inflammation.1
In contrast to its role in cardiovascular health, there has been far less research on the role of olive oil in bone health. However, recent studies have shown that oleuropein, a compound which is found in virgin olive oil and other olive tree products, could help prevent age-related bone loss and osteoporosis by, among other things, enhancing the production of osteoblasts (cells responsible for bone formation).2,3
Studies have not been carried out in humans, so much more research needs to be done before bone-health benefits are confirmed or any potential clinical applications are developed. Yet it’s nice to know that when you use extra virgin oil in your salad, you are not just selecting a heart-healthy option, you may very well be giving your bone health a boost too!
This article appeared in the bimonthly Love Your Bones newsletter sent to IOF members.