The Mediterranean diet is known to contain a variety of beneficial effects on health, from lowering peripheral arterial disease risk to reducing sleep apnea, to even increasing life expectancy.
In addition, according to a new study from Sapienza University in Rome, Extra Virgin Olive Oil as part of a Mediterranean diet seems to have healthier effects on cholesterol and blood sugar after meals than other types of fat in general.
Furthermore, the Mediterranean diet is an eating style generally of countries such as Greece, Italy, Morocco and Spain, that mainly focuses on whole grains, vegetables, fish, fruits, low-fat dairy, nuts, legumes, and extra virgin olive oil.
Previous research has come to a conclusion that extra virgin olive oil may also help protect against cardiovascular disease, but it has not been clear what accounts for this effect.
To determine how the oil benefits heart and blood vessel health, researchers evaluated the effects of adding either no oil, 10 grams (approximately 2 tablespoons) of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or 10 grams of corn oil to a standard Mediterranean lunch in 25 subjects without diabetes.
In the first stage of the study, the participants were randomly assigned to eat the meal either with or without the additional Extra Virgin Olive Oil. A month later, these same participants were randomly assigned to eat the meal either with the addition of Extra Virgin Olive Oil or the addition of corn oil.
As the test determined, blood tests taken two hours before and two hours after theses meals concluded that blood sugar levels rose much less after the meal with extra virgin olive oil (26.2 mg/dl, on average) compared to the meal with corn oil (40.7 mg/dl, on average) or the meal with no additional oil (53.6 mg/dl, on average).
Additionally, lower levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, were also found after the meal with supplemental extra virgin olive oil compared to the meals with corn oil or no oil.
Although the study is small, the researchers note that it is one of the first to connect lower cholesterol and blood sugar after meals to a Mediterranean diet with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.