Here’s yet another rea­son to add olive oil to your diet. A recent arti­cle based on review of 37 sci­en­tific stud­ies reports that the phe­nols in extra vir­gin olive oil may pre­vent loss of bone mass.

There is already evi­dence that pop­u­la­tions who con­sume the Mediterranean diet have a lower inci­dence of osteo­poro­sis and frac­tures. In 2013, a large cohort study of 188,795 sub­jects from eight European coun­tries reported that sub­jects with a higher adher­ence to the Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of hip frac­tures.
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The link between olive oil intake and bone health was inves­ti­gated in another study that eval­u­ated three groups of elderly men over a two-year period. Their Mediterranean diets included a daily intake of at least 50 mil­li­liters of vir­gin olive or 30 grams of mixed nuts, while the third group con­sumed a low-fat Mediterranean diet. At the end of the study period, the researchers found that only the group with extra intake of olive oil had increased lev­els of serum osteo­cal­cin and pro­col­la­gen I N‑terminal propep­tide pro­col­la­gen, both of which are asso­ci­ated with a pro­tec­tive effect on bone health.

Furthermore, there is a pos­i­tive asso­ci­a­tion between intake of monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids and bone min­eral den­sity. This is high­lighted in a study that reports that inci­dence of frac­tures is lower in Greece, where olive oil is the main source of monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids, than in United States and North European coun­tries.

In questo 2014 review paper pub­lished in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition, the researchers focused on lit­er­a­ture from bio­med­ical data­bases to deter­mine if phe­nols present in vir­gin olive oil affected bone mass.

Extra vir­gin olive oil con­tains many phe­nols that pro­vide health ben­e­fits includ­ing pro­tec­tion against car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, some can­cers and the aging process. According to the find­ings of the review, vir­gin olive oil phe­nols may also play a role in the pre­ven­tion of osteo­poro­sis.

Oleuropein, a key phe­no­lic com­po­nent of olive oil, may pre­vent bone loss asso­ci­ated with osteo­poro­sis and aging by increas­ing for­ma­tion of osteoblasts (bone-form­ing cells) from bone mar­row stem cells, and decreas­ing gen­er­a­tion of fat cells. In ani­mal stud­ies, oleu­ropein pro­tected against bone loss by pre­vent­ing inflam­ma­tion-induced osteope­nia.

Experiments on human bone mar­row stem cells found that oleu­ropein could pre­vent bone loss and osteo­poro­sis caused by age. Another study on mouse bone mar­row cells indi­cates that oleu­ropein and hydoxy­ty­rosol may be effec­tive in reduc­ing symp­toms of osteo­poro­sis. Data also sug­gests that other phe­nols such as lute­olin may pre­vent bone loss in post­menopausal osteo­poro­sis by reduc­ing the action and func­tion of osteo­clasts, which are cells that break down bone tis­sue.

The antiox­i­dant prop­er­ties of phe­nols, tyrosol and hydoxy­ty­rosol, may increase bone for­ma­tion, act as free rad­i­cal scav­engers and pre­vent oxi­da­tion-induced dam­age to bone cells. Hydroxytyrosol alone also stim­u­lated depo­si­tion of cal­cium and inhib­ited for­ma­tion of osteo­clasts.

Although results of exper­i­men­tal mod­els indi­cate the ben­e­fits of phe­nols in vir­gin olive oil in main­tain­ing bone health, clin­i­cal research is nec­es­sary to con­firm these find­ings.

It appears, how­ever, that in addi­tion to pro­tect­ing against heart dis­ease and can­cer, reg­u­lar intake of vir­gin olive oil may be a sim­ple but effec­tive solu­tion to pre­vent­ing osteo­poro­sis, which the World Health Organization has des­ig­nated as the “sec­ond most health­care prob­lem world­wide after car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease.”



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