Extra virgin olive oil, extra heart help

Extra virgin olive oil may lower blood sugar and cholesterol right after meals, according to a small new study.

When it comes to healthy benefits, extra virgin olive oil may offer near-immediate gratification, according to new research. A small study linked a Mediterranean meal with a few spoonfuls of EVOO to lower blood sugar and LDL cholesterol after meals.

“Lowering (post-meal) blood glucose and cholesterol may be useful to reduce the negative effects of glucose and cholesterol on the cardiovascular system,” lead study author Francesco Violi, a researcher at Sapienza University in Rome, told reuters.com.

Though the study was tiny, involving 25 people, it’s among the first to link a Mediterranean diet containing extra virgin olive oil to lower blood sugar and LDL cholesterol after meals.

For the study, on two separate occasions, researchers gave the healthy subjects a typical Mediterranean lunch. They added 10 grams of EVOO to the first meal. They added 10 grams of corn oil to the second meal. Blood tests conducted before and two hours after the meals found that blood sugar rose after eating in all the participants, which is normal. But blood sugar rose much less after a meal with olive oil compared to one with corn oil. The blood tests also revealed lower levels of low-density lipoprotein, the “bad cholesterol,” among the subjects after eating the meal with the extra olive oil. The results were published in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes.

The research adds to the growing pile of evidence supporting the healthy benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Sales of Mediterranean-style foods, like Greek yogurt, olive oil and hummus, are growing. Hummus sales are so strong, that tobacco farmers in Virginia are switching their farms to chickpeas.

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