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Mediterranean Diet Rich in Olive Oil May Protect Your Bones, Study Suggests

Good news on the osteoporosis front: Olive oil may help keep your bones healthy, a new study suggests.

© Nevit Dilmen

Researchers found that men who consumed an olive-oil-rich Mediterranean diet showed a higher level of osteocalcin, a marker of bone formation. Men and women both suffer from age-related loss in bone mass and strength, contributing to the brittle bone disease osteoporosis and the risk of bone fractures.

The incidence of osteoporosis is lower in Mediterranean countries than elsewhere in Europe, studies show. The traditional Mediterranean diet – rich in fruits, vegetables, gains, seafood, and olive oil – “could be one of the environmental factors underlying this difference,” researchers noted.

“The intake of olive oil has been related to the prevention of osteoporosis in experimental and in vitro models,” Dr. José Manuel Fernández-Real, from the Hospital Dr. Josep Trueta in Girona, Spain, said in a news release.

“This is the first randomized study which demonstrates that olive oil preserves bone, at least as inferred by circulating bone markers, in humans.”

The two-year study – to appear in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism – covered 127 men, aged 55 to 80 years. They’d been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, or had at least three known cardiovascular risk factors.

The men ate three different diets: a Mediterranean diet with mixed nuts; a Mediterranean diet with virgin olive oil; and a low-fat diet.

The researchers found that only the consumption of the Mediterranean diet with olive oil was linked to a “significant increase” in levels of osteocalcin and other markers of bone formation.

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