The consumption of virgin olive oil as part of a Mediterranean diet may protect against bone loss in the elderly, according to Spanish researchers.
In a 2-year randomized, controlled trial of 127 men aged 55 years to 80 years, researchers concluded that olive oil increases the body’s concentration of the serum osteocalcin, which protects the bone. Participants had no prior history of cardiovascular disease, but had either type 2 diabetes or at least three risk factors for developing the disease, including family history, hypertension and dyslipidemia.
“The intake of olive oil has been related to the prevention of osteoporosis in experimental and in vitro models,” José Manuel Fernández-Real, MD, PhD, lead author from the Hospital Dr. Josep Trueta in Girona, Spain, stated in a press release. “This is the first randomized study which demonstrates that olive oil preserves bone, at least as inferred by circulating bone markers, in humans.”
This study was published ahead of print in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Fernández-Real and colleagues also measured HDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol, glucose and triglycerides at baseline in addition to osteocalcin, but only olive oil as well as a Mediterranean diet proved to increase levels of osteocalcin and other bone formation markers in the body.
In the release, Fernández-Real noted that osteocalcin in the body has other effects, such as increasing insulin secretion, in addition to protecting bone.
“It is important to note that circulating osteocalcin was associated with preserved insulin secretion in subjects taking olive oil,” Fernández-Real stated. “Osteocalcin has also been described to increase insulin secretion in experimental models.”
Fernández-Real JM, Bulló M, Moreno-Navarrete JM, et al. A Mediterranean diet enriched with olive oil is associated with higher serum total osteocalcin levels in elderly men at high cardiovascular risk. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Aug 1. Epub ahead of print.
Disclosure: Fernández-Real has no relevant financial disclosures.