One Little Known Benefit of Olive Oil

Olive-Oil

Believe it or not, I've never cut up a fresh jalapeno before. And the other day, I decided I wanted a little spice in my stuffed bell pepper and just happened to have a jalapeno on hand.

You can probably guess what happened in my capsaicin-ignorant state. The capsaicin got on my fingers, which I licked after stuffing my bell pepper.

Even though I washed my hands after chopping (again: ignorant), my lips and mouth started burning. BAD. Thankful that I hadn't touched more of my face, I dashed to the Internet for help.

Some people recommended milk, others lemon juice, both which I scurried in to the kitchen and applied. No such luck.

Then, someone mentioned using olive oil to reduce the sting. I pulled out my EVOO, poured some in my hand, and rubbed it all over my fingers, lips and tongue like my life depended on it.

 It was a miracle! The burning vanished almost instantly. And though I had to keep applying 3 or 4 times an hour ( for a few hours), the capsaicin was eventually defeated.  EVOO to the rescue!

By now you've probably heard about olive oil’s great benefits in supporting a healthy heart, metabolism, and weight. (And, apparently, neutralizing a burning jalapeno from your skin!)

But did you know it’s also good for healthy bones?

Study Shows Olive Oil Improves Bone Regrowth

According to a recent Spanish study, olive oil increases osteocalcin levels in the blood. To understand why that’s important, here’s a brief overview of how your bone construction works:

First, your bones are constantly being absorbed and remodeled. It’s said that you'll have a new set of bones every seven years!

Osteoblasts—the cells responsible for laying down new bone—produce osteocalcin proteins as they work. These proteins help add minerals to the bone and are measurable in the blood, though osteoblast levels themselves are not.

The logic goes that the more osteocalcin present, the higher the bone regrowth activity and the higher the bone’s mineral density.

The two-year study compared 127 men between 55 and 80, all of whom were at risk for heart disease or had type 2 diabetes. The control group followed a regular low-fat diet, while the two test groups followed the Mediterranean diet: one with an emphasis on nuts (30g of walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds), and one with an emphasis on virgin olive oil (50ml/day).

The study showed that only the men who supplemented with VOO had significantly higher serum levels of osteocalcin. Levels of P1NP—a more sensitive marker of bone reformation—were also dramatically increased. (1)

Although alternative doctors like Dr. David Brownstein say bone mineral density does not always indicate strong bones (“You can have thick, weak bones or thin, strong bones,” he says), high osteocalcin is a marker of good bone creation. This is something that osteoporotic patients do not always have. (2)

There’s also another benefit to increased osteocalcin production: metabolism. Osteocalcin is also a hormone that asks fat cells to release insulin-sensitizer adiponectin. It also increases the pancreas’ production of insulin, which leads to lower blood sugar. (3)

Olive oil isn't meant to replace sources of calcium and vitamin D in your diet—just boost their efforts. Weight-bearing exercise is also recommended for maintaining (or reclaiming) bone strength. But, taking in approximately 3.5 tablespoons of EVOO a day, as the study showed, will reduce the likelihood of osteoporosis and fractures.

Get your 3.5 tablespoons by putting EVOO on salads as a dressing, for dipping with bread and spices, and for regular cooking. Some people have been known to knock back a shot glass of the good stuff!

References:

(1) Fernandez-Real JM. A Mediterranean Diet Enriched with Olive Oil Is Associated with Higher Serum Total Osteocalcin Levels in Elderly Men at High Cardiovascular Risk. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2012 Oct;97(10):3792-8.

(2) Brownstein D. “Osteoporosis Drugs.” Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do. p. 119.

(3) Lee NK. Endocrine regulation of energy metabolism by the skeleton. Cell. 2007 Oct. 10.

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