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Extra virgin olive oil lowers blood glucose and cholesterol, study finds
Extra virgin olive oil reduces blood sugar and cholesterol more than other kinds of fats, according to new research.
The study, conducted at Sapienza University in Romen, could explain the health benefits associated with a traditional Mediterranean diet for people with diabetes.
“Lowering blood glucose and cholesterol may be useful to reduce the negative effects of glucose and cholesterol on the cardiovascular system,” said Francesco Violo, lead author of the study.
This was a small study involving only 25 participants, all of whom ate a typical Mediterranean lunch – consisting primarily of fruits, vegetables, grains and fish – on two separate occasions. For the first meal, they added 10g of extra virgin olive oil. For the second, they added 10g of corn oil.
After each meal, the participants blood glucose levels were tested. The rise in blood sugar levels was much smaller after the meal with extra virgin olive oil than after the meal with corn oil.
The findings were consistent with previous studies, which have linked extra virgin olive oil to higher levels of insulin, making it beneficial to people with type 2 diabetes.
More surprising, however, were the reduced levels of low-density lipo protein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, associated with the extra virgin olive oil meal.
The study’s findings are interesting but preliminary. Further studies are needed to confirm them. The study did not examine whether corn oil was worse or better than having no oil at all, for example.
Despite its flaws, the study is one of the first to link the Mediterranean diet with extra virgin olive oil to lower levels of LDL cholesterol and lower blood glucose levels.
The researchers stressed that consuming extra virgin olive oil on its own is not going to provide the benefits observed during the study. Rather, it has to be consumed in the context of a balanced diet.