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Good for your bones: Mediterranean diet with extra-virgin olive oil

by Margery Gass | Sep 07, 2012
You’ve already heard that a Mediterranean diet is good for your heart. Now there’s evidence it could make your bones stronger, too. Researchers in Spain have been looking at the effects of the Mediterranean diet—tweaked different ways—in middle-aged and older people. They found that participants in their study who got intensive diet advice and an extra supply (1 liter a week) of extra-virgin olive oil had higher levels of osteocalcin and other healthy bone markers in their blood than participants who just got the advice or who got the advice and an extra supply of nuts. In fact, blood levels of calcium went down in the last two groups but stayed stable for the participants who got the supplemental extra-virgin olive oil.

The researchers saw bonus benefits for diabetes, too. All the participants had type 2 diabetes. The ones in the supplemental olive-oil group all retained the ability to secrete insulin. In other words, their diabetes didn’t progress to the point where they had to take insulin.

The Mediterranean diet is the pattern of the traditional cuisine in Crete, Greece, and Southern Italy. It includes lots of grains, beans, nuts, vegetables, and fruits; small amounts of red meats; small to moderate amounts of poultry and dairy products (usually yogurt or cheese); moderate amounts of alcohol (usually red wine with meals); and fairly high fat consumption (up to 40% of total calories), mostly monounsaturated fat—usually olive oil.

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