The phenolic compounds found in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) have a potential benefit on bone health, lowering the risk of fractures by 51%, if consumed regularly, say Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea (PREDIMED) researchers from Madrid.
After looking at data of 870 people, a positive role of EVOO consumption on bone-related markers was found, despite there being no significant positive effects on bone fractures in subjects allocated to an EVOO diet.
“We found that greater consumption of EVOO is associated with a lower risk of osteoporosis-related fractures in an older Mediterranean population at high cardiovascular risk. Our findings highlight the consumption of EVOO, one of the key foods of the Mediterranean Diet, in the prevention of osteoporosis-related fractures,” said Dr J.F. García-Gavilán and his team, writing in ‘Clinical Trials’.
However common olive oil – where 80% of the make-up is refined oil – consumption is not associated with a lower risk of fractures in the study.
Jerónimo Díaz, CEO of Olive Innovations, owner of oliveheart said, "this study will boost sales of extra virgin olive oils high in olive polyphenols. Not all extra virgin olive oils have the same level of polyphenols, but only those whose olives have been early harvested and carefully processed.”
Does a higher price equal higher quality?
EVOO is produced by mechanically pressing ripe olives, and contains the highest amounts of bio-active and antioxidant components, the most abundant being oleuropein, tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol.
Mintel say the health benefits of EVOO could be the reason why so many of us are willing to pay higher prices for it, as 39% of consumers prefer EVOO compared to 22% who prefer common olive oil.
“The higher usage of extra virgin olive oil than standard olive oil suggests that it is probably seen as a higher quality product, as less refined and therefore more natural. However, only a minority of edible oil buyers see production methods as important when buying oil either for cooking or dressing”, say analysts at Mintel.
“Many people are not aware of what the term refers to, seeing extra virgin oil as superior quality but without fully understanding what makes it different. The use of terms such as ‘extra virgin’ thus looks more likely to resonate in this market than referring specifically to production methods”, Mintel added.
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The higher prices of EVOO, compared to common olive oil and other edible oils, do not seem to have affected its demand, say Mintel, showing that consumers are loyal to the product.
The study details
Participants were aged between 55 and 80 years and were all at high cardiovascular risk but had no previous history of cardiovascular disease.
This included people who smoke, are obese or overweight, had low levels of high density lipoprotein cholesterol, had high levels of low density lipoprotein cholesterol or had high blood pressure (hypertension).
Participants were supplemented with one of the following three diets; a Mediterranean diet with high levels of EVOO consumption, a Mediterranean diet with high levels of nut consumption or a low-fat diet (control group).
Food frequency questionnaires were used to test the participants’ dietary habits and were carried out each year of the study.
Out of the 114 cases documented over the average of nine years of the study, 40 were from participants in the Mediterranean diet with high EVOO consumption, 37 from the Mediterranean diet with high nut consumption and 37 from the control group.
Researchers suggested the results were not favourable to the EVOO group due to the study time not being long enough to have a full effect on bone mineral density, as well as the study size being too small.
Source: Clinical Nutrition
“Extra Virgin Olive Oil Consumption Reduces the Risk of Osteroporotic Fractures” in The Predimed Trial
Authors: J García-Gavilán, et al.