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Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Associated with Olive Oil Consumption

Dietitians have been praising the Mediterranean diet for years, but no studies related to olive oil intake have been focused in the United States until now….

Some current evidence suggests saturated fats may increase the risk of diabetes. Contrastingly, dietary intake of unsaturated fats have been shown to have a decreased risk of diabetes in previous studies. More specifically, studies in other countries have evaluated the consumption of extra virgin oil and reduced diabetes risk.

Researchers followed two cohorts of over 100,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study I and II (NHS I and NHS II) over a span of nearly 22 years. All women were free of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer at the beginning of the study.

Throughout the study, the women were given food frequency questionnaires every four years asking questions pertaining to olive oil used as salad dressing or used with food or bread. Near the end of 22 years, researchers documented 5,738 diabetes cases from the NHS I cohort and 3914 cases from the NHS II cohort.

Adjusting for other lifestyle and dietary factors, the researchers concluded that those who consumed greater than one tablespoon (8 grams) of olive oil a day had a 6% reduction in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Interestingly, the authors noted that substituting eight grams of olive oil per day in the place of a stick margarine, butter or mayonnaise was associated with a 5%, 8% and 15% lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Finding ways to substitute extra virgin olive oil into the diet in place of other saturated fats may be a healthier option for patients in decreasing the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Practice Pearls:

  • Over 100,000 nurses filled out food questionnaires for 22 years pertaining to their intake of olive oil.
  • In this cohort of women, researchers found consuming greater than 8 grams of olive oil per day led to a 6% decrease in developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Patients who find ways to substitute extra virgin olive oil for saturated fats found in margarine, butter or mayonnaise may see the benefits shown in this study.

Guasch-Ferre, M., A. Hruby, J. Salas-Salvado, et al. “Olive Oil Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in US Women.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2015): 479-86. Web. 11 Aug. 2015.