New research shows that adding olive oil to the diet may help preserve bone. The study to be published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that consumption of olive oil for 2 years resulted in an increase of osteocalcin in the bone. Osteocalcin is a protein found in the bone that is involved in its mineralization and is often used as a biochemical marker for bone formation.
Previous research has found associations between olive oil and osteoporosis but they were mainly experimental, this is the first study that examined the effect of olive oil on circulating osteocalcin in humans.
For this randomized study 127 men aged 55 to 80 years were randomly selected from one of the PREDIMED study centers. PREDIMED, is a long-term nutritional intervention study aimed to assess the efficacy of the Mediterranean diet in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
The elderly subjects had a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes or at least three cardiovascular risk factors, namely hypertension, dyslipidemia, or a family history of premature cardiovascular disease. The participants were randomly assigned to one of three intervention groups: Mediterranean diet with mixed nuts, Mediterranean diet with virgin olive oil, or a low-fat diet.
For the study, measurements were taken for osteocalcin, glucose, total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol and triglyceride at the beginning of the intervention and after two years. The participants following a Mediterranean diet with olive oil had a significant increase in the concentrations of total osteocalcin and other bone formation markers and they also had no significant changes in serum calcium, whereas in the other two groups (Mediterranean diet with mixed nuts and Low fat Diet) serum calcium decreased significantly.
According the researchers, studies have shown that the incidence of osteoporosis is lower in the Mediterranean and the Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, may be one of the reasons why.