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Olive Oil For Diabetes

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder where the body cannot effectively utilize the food that has been digested for energy. Type 1 diabetes concerns the auto-immune system and little can be done to prevent it. Type 2 diabetes on the other hand, is related to family history, age, obesity and other lifestyle factors like stress and lack of exercise. Diet, along with exercise, plays a big role in prevention of type 2 diabetes and in its management. In this regard, the benefits of olive oil for diabetes management are indisputable.
Numerous researches have been done on the link between diabetes and olive oil and there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that olive oil can play a role in preventing diabetes.

To understand how olive oil benefits diabetics we must first understand diabetes and its effect on blood sugar. Our blood contains some amount of sugar. The level of sugar in the blood is lowest in the morning when we wake up. It rises after we eat from the food we digest. It continues to fluctuate throughout the day. A healthy body regulates the level of sugar in the blood so that it remains within a narrow range. If the level of sugar falls too much, a condition known as hypoglycemia, lethargy sets in and it can even cause unconsciousness, brain damage and death. If the level of blood sugar is too high, a condition known as hyperglycemia, it can damage different parts of the body like the eyes, kidneys and the nervous system.

After we have eaten and the food has been digested, the hormone insulin helps the body to utilize the sugar which has been extracted from the food. This prevents the levels of sugar from climbing too high. A diabetic’s body on the other hand, does not produce enough insulin or is abnormally resistant to its action. This causes the increase in blood sugar levels. People can get diabetes either as children or as adults. When adults develop diabetes, it is often due to their lifestyle. Sedentary lifestyles, stress, eating a diet high in fats and low in fiber and being overweight are some of the causes of diabetes as an adult.

So the question one may well ask is, ‘if fats are bad then why is olive oil good?’
  • Olive oil is mostly used to cook food. It has a significantly lower level of saturated fat (bad fat) when compared to other cooking media like butter, lard and other vegetable oils. Instead it has a high content of monounsaturated fats (good fat). There is a growing body of evidence that shows an increased risk of developing diabetes with a high intake of saturated fats. So cooking food in olive oil will lower the risk of developing diabetes.
  • Evidence also suggests that monounsaturated fats can actually help to lower blood sugar levels. This means that as a diabetic, you can benefit immensely by cutting out your fat intake and adding olive oil to your diet.
  • This is actually good news for diabetics. A ‘diabetic diet’ that is low in fats and carbohydrates isn’t as tasty as one which contains both of them. Using olive oil in your cooking can actually make this kind of a diet tastier and easy to stick to in the long run.
  • It is very common for people with diabetes to also develop coronary heart disease. In fact, almost 80% of all deaths in the case of diabetics are due to coronary heart disease. Olive oil has been shown to be beneficial in preventing coronary heart disease as well as some cancers like breast and colon cancer. The monounsaturated fats in olive oil help to reduce total cholesterol levels in the blood. They also reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) as well as triglycerides in the blood. Extra virgin olive oil is also rich in polyphenol, a type of antioxidant. Research shows that these antioxidants may have a beneficial effect on blood pressure and may actually help to lower it. Also see health benefits of olive

The health benefits of olive oil for diabetics have been demonstrated in studies of people living in the Mediterranean areas where olives are grown. People who live in countries like Italy and Greece, where olive oil is extensively used, have a much lower incidence of diabetes and heart disease than in other parts of the world including the US. This could be because of the ‘Mediterranean diet’ consisting of lots of fruits, fish, vegetables, dairy products and red meat, with the food being prepared in olive oil.

Submitted on January 17, 2014