Spanish researchers have found that a Mediterranean diet containing lots of virgin olive oil may be good for bones as well as the heart. For the study, more than 100 older men were randomly assigned to follow a heart-healthy diet for two years. One third were given a low-fat diet plan; one-third followed a Mediterranean diet with mixed nuts; and the final third ate a Mediterranean diet that got most of its fat from olive oil. At the end of two years, the scientists found that blood levels of a compound called osteocalcin, associated with bone formation, had increased among the men assigned to the diet enriched with olive oil.

[Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, October, 2012]

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  1. J L Brueggeman

    Of course studies sponsored by commercial entities have a bias. These studies are designed to determine what is hoped to be a predictable clinical endpoint, and thereby comes a bias. For this reason we have the Food and Drug Administration to evaluate the degree of bias and sort out unbiased results, if there are any.
    For someone to discount data until “…they are repeated many, many times by different research groups/institutions” is thoroughly unreasonable. Science requires that studies be reproducible. “Many, many” would waste scarce resources and be prohibitively expenses.

  2. abigail

    I understand that walnut oil has more Omega 3’s than olive oil. what do we know about walnut oil? I have been using it lately and may tolerate it better than virgin olive oil. the taste is different and requires some adjusting to. Are there negatives to walnut oil?
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: We don’t know of any negatives. Like extra virgin olive oil, it doesn’t do well with heat. Better for salad dressing.

  3. Katie

    If Dr. Ronat’s tone “seems” to be suggesting…” I would like to go a step further and express my total doubt for any studies unless they are repeated many, many times by different research groups/institutions. Dr Ronat’s concerns are completely legitimate, justified and well-founded. There are so many well documented “cooked” studies, especially when paid for by sponsors with conflicts of interest and financial gain opportunities depending upon the results. Most disturbing is the well-known fact that many institutions do not dare publish results that the sponsor will not approve of. The sponsor simply finds some other group to do another study.

  4. DS

    “Heart-healthy” is NOT a low-fat diet. Saturated fat is good for you. Researchers do not seem to read other researchers’ results, or even their abstracts. People who believe saturated fat is bad will not believe otherwise no matter what studies are done.
    “Mediterranean diet” is not well defined. Maybe having more fat, period, is what helped with bone strength.

  5. Judith Ronat M.D.

    Spain is a large producer and exporter of olive oil.
    I would like to know who sponsored the research? Was it a branch of the Spanish government or other organization promoting olive oil sales?
    Also, a link to the article would be helpful.
    Dr. Ronat,
    The article, “A Mediterranean Diet Enriched with Olive Oil is Associated with Higher Serum Total Osteocalcin Levels in Elderly Men at High Cardiovascular Risk,” will appear in the October 2012 issue of JCEM [Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism].
    Here is a link to the abstract:
    By your tone you seem to be suggesting that if “the Spanish government or other organization promoting olive oil sales” had sponsored this research then it would be suspect. By such reasoning, all pharmaceutical research would be suspect since it is almost always is sponsored by drug companies. In fact we would not have any pharmaceuticals on the market if we required drugs to be tested by objective third parties with no financial interest in the outcome.
    Peer reviewed journals such as The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism are supposed to review all submissions for quality. If the data were suspect we would hope that the editors of the journal would reject the submission, just as the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine would reject a drug study that did not meet its standards.
    Bottom line, we found this preliminary research interesting and think that a Mediterranean diet enriched with olive oil might help and won’t hurt…something we can’t always say about pharmaceuticals prescribed for osteoporosis prevention.

  6. Andre C.

    Loved the tip. Here is a great post on the quality of olive oils and the book/blog that the information came from.
    The first blog is .
    Mark Sisson would be a great guest.
    So to would the author of Extra Virginity…Tom Mueller…he did what you 2 did for the grapefruit/drug connection. He exposed the fake olive oil market. I heard him on NPR.
    Thanks for your hard investigative reporting, Andre

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