Another Reason Why Integrative Medicine Promotes a Mediterranean Diet

Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease and represents a major healthcare challenge. Features of osteoporosis include:

  • Low bone mass
  • Deterioration of bone tissue
  • Disruption of bone architecture
  • Increased risk of fracture

Osteoporosis is commonly treated in Integrative Medicine centres. Many integrative medicine doctors provide nutritional advice such as extra virgin olive oil as natural cure and remedies for maintenance of good health.

Olive oil

Olive oil is the most popular edible vegetable oil and is produced in many Mediterranean countries. It is known for its aroma and flavour and is one of the most popular natural cure and remedies used in nutritional therapy.

Olive oil is high in monounsaturated ‘healthy’ fats due to the high concentration of oleic acid. It is also rich in antioxidant polyphenols. There are various grades of olive oils:

  • Refined olive oil – Made by treating low-quality virgin olive oil using high temperatures in conjunction with chemicals and physical filters.
  • Virgin olive oil – An unrefined olive oil i.e. no chemicals or heat are used while extracting the oil. This contains multiple bio-active and antioxidant components such as polyphenols, phytosterols and vitamin E, and has an acidity of around 1.5%.
  • Extra virgin oil – Is the highest grade of olive oil. It is completely unrefined and has  the lowest acidity level (around 1%) and is the oil with the best quality, and  the most intense taste.
  • Pure olive oil – Is a blend of extra virgin and refined olive oil. It is lower in nutritional value compared to virgin olive oil.

Extra virgin olive oil is regarded as important natural cures and remedies and is known to help:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve cholesterol levels
  • Control insulin levels
  • Reduce risk if certain types of cancer

Research Study

Previous epidemiological data has indicated that osteoporotic fractures are lower in Mediterranean countries. J.F. García-Gavilánet al carried out a Complementary and Alternative Medicine research study to determine if extra virgin olive oil had any effect on risk of osteoporosis-related fractures in a middle-aged and elderly Mediterranean population.

The Complementary and Alternative Medicine study in Spain looked at 870 participants (men and women aged 55 -80). The participants who had a high risk of cardiovascular disease consumed one of the following:

  1. Extra-virgin olive oil
  2. Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts
  3. A traditional low-fat diet

The duration of the Complementary and Alternative Medicine study period was 5-years with a 9-year follow-up period.

The results revealed that those who consumed the highest daily amount of extra virgin olive oil i.e. about 4 tablespoons per day had a 51% lower risk of osteoporosis compared to those who consumed the least amount of extra virgin olive oil (1.5 tablespoons per day).

Mediterranean Way of Eating

Mediterranean Diet Chart

The Complementary and Alternative Medicine study concluded that higher consumption of extra-virgin olive oil is associated with a lower risk of osteoporosis-related fractures in middle-aged and elderly Mediterranean population at high cardiovascular risk.

Extra virgin olive oil has been used for centuries as a natural cure and remedies for many ailments. This study provides further validation of common integrative medicine advice that Mediterranean way of eating lowers the risk of heart disease and longer life expectancy.