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Olive Oil and Diabetes

Last summer we wrote a blog about how high-quality olive oil actually helps prevent Alzheimer’s. And most people also know that olives play a healthy role in reducing heart disease in parts of the world where olives and olive oil are a regularly eaten. This evidence of olive oil’s health benefits is very reassuring to those of us who love it and want it to be part of our everyday dining table.

Now we’d like to tell you about how olive oil helps fight Type 2 Diabetes, an awful disease that over 30 million Americans suffer from, and which about 1.4 million more people are diagnosed with each year.


What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Diabetes comes in two forms, Type 1 and Type 2.

  • Type 1 is an autoimmune disease where your body mistakenly targets the insulin producing cells in the pancreas, destroying them and leaving the person having to provide themselves with insulin via injection.
  • Type 2, the type we are talking about here, is when the body first becomes insulin resistant, then eventually insulin deficient as the pancreas produces less and less insulin. Eventually the person has to inject themselves with insulin because their body is not producing anywhere near the level they need anymore.

The vast majority, 90-95%, of all Diabetes cases are Type 2. And the good news is that Type 2 is the type that olive oil helps fight!


How Does Olive Oil Help?

We’ve known for a number of years now that people who eat the “Mediterranean Diet” have lower incidence of Diabetes, and we have known that the intake of olive oil helps fight free radicals and inflammation in our system. We’ve even known that olive oil helps regulate blood sugar. But we haven’t known how it does all that great stuff. Now, thanks to a recent study done at Virginia Tech, we do.

There’s a compound in olives (and therefore in good quality olive oil) called oleuropein. This compound, it turns out, fights Type 2 Diabetes two main ways:

1) It increases insulin production, which, of course, regulates your blood sugar and metabolism.
And 2) it detoxifies amylin, the hormone assistant of insulin.

Amylin, in case you aren’t familiar with this obscure hormone, does three main things:

  • It slows gastric emptying. When your food stays in your stomach longer, the carbohydrates you’ve eaten break down and are released into your blood stream slower, which helps keep your blood sugar from spiking.
  • Keeping your food in your stomach longer helps you feel full longer.
  • Amylin also helps block the release of the hormone glucagon from your liver. (Glucagon is stored in your liver as a back-up fuel supply. Only when your blood sugar gets low and no calories are in sight does amylin send the signal for the liver to release some glucagon. But since Diabetics are low in amylin, the liver just keeps releasing its stored glucagon, which causes blood sugar spikes.)


The Moral of the Story

Eat more high-quality olive oil. Estimates are that millions of Americans are pre-Diabetic—which means they are on their way to getting full-blown Type 2 Diabetes if they don’t make some healthy changes to their eating habits and lifestyle. Replacing other, less healthy fats with delicious and healthy olive oil is an easy way to improve your health.


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