Control Blood Sugar With Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean DIet

Naturally low-glycemic index Caprese salad: mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, basil, extra virgin olive oil

Italian researchers found that extra-virgin olive oil taken with meals helps to reduce blood sugar elevations after meals in type 1 diabetics. This may help explain the lower observed incidence of diabetes seen in those eating a traditional Mediterranean diet, which is rich in olive oil.

Before going further into the weeds, remember that glycemic index refers to how high and quickly a particular food elevates blood sugar. High-glycemic index foods raise blood sugar quicker and higher compared to low-glycemic index foods.

The study at hand is a small one: 18 patients. They were given both high- and low-glycemic meals with varying amounts and types of fat. Meals were either low-fat, high in saturated fat (from butter), or high in monounsaturated fat from olive oil. Meals that were high-glycemic index resulted in lower after-meal glucose levels if the meal had high olive oil content, compared to low-fat and butter-rich meals.

If meals were low in glycemic index, blood sugar levels were about the same whether the diet was low-fat, high in saturated fat, or rich in olive oil.

Action Plan

If you have type 1 diabetes and plan on eating high on the glycemic index scale, reduce your blood sugar excursions by incorporating extra-virgin olive oil into your meals.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference: Bozzetto, Luigarda, et al. Extra-virgin olive oil reduces glycemic response to a high-glycemic index meal in patients with type 1 diabetes: a randomized controlled trial. Diabetes Care, online before print, February 9, 2016. doi: 10.2337/dc15-2189


Filed under Fat in Diet, Glycemic Index and Load

9 responses to “Control Blood Sugar With Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

  1. Doc, you don’t give absolute glucose levels so we cannot know if this is a world-shattering breakthrough heralding the end of diabetes as we know it or just another grant-whore study funded by the olive-oil industry heralding a statistically-significant, clinically trivial bg reduction … I’d look it up but it’s behind a $35 paywall, probably to conceal it’s utter pathetic triviality and prevent us from realizing that diabetology is a scam designed to support sales of carbohydrates. What say you?

  2. Richard S Stone

    Jonathon: A bit harsh, don’t you think? studies like the one described are important for inspiring further work, and research, and perhaps some individual consideration, not necessarily (or we could say certainly not…) as conclusive evidence for one particular finding. It would be nice if the information was free or freely available, but such is life. A scam to support sales of carbohydrates? But the fact is that people eat carbohydrates of all sorts on a regular basis, and one issue is the glycemic reaction. The information provided is interesting. and it is interesting that butter apparently does not provide the same benefit.

    • I don’t think so – feeding diabetics carbohydrates makes for high fasting blood sugars, and the high insulin/high bg combo is the cause of diabetic complications. Carbs replenish glycogen, which is broken down to glucose and raises fasting bg when insulin is low or if you have insulin resistance. Restricting carbs depletes glycogen and the liver in its wisdom breaks down less, allowing a diabetic to have a normal fasting bg (Allick 2004). Ergo, the task of the diabetes educator is to encourage carbohydrate restriction to avoid the diabetic becoming a legless, purblind dialysis recipient – instead, the sons of bitches encourage carby diets … for why, look no further than the list of ADA corporate supporters. It’s utterly corrunpt

      • Richard S Stone

        It appears that the “cure” of diabetes is fasting and carb restriction; see Dr. Fung’s site “Intensive Dietary management.” And yes, the “official” diabetes groups have gross conflicts of interest that must be recognized and understood. But the reality is that people eat carbs and the human body is designed to eat some amount of carbohydrates as part of a normal diet. One could even argue that the real problem is refined carbohydrates (generally from grass seeds), not “carbohydrates” in general.Even non-diabetics would benefit from a better understanding of how various foods might and do interact. The study referred to is only what it is, and no more. Or has anyone read it and found it to contain a recommendation to eat more carbohydrates?

  3. Two questions Dr. Parker:
    1.How much evoo did the subjects consume per meal

    2.Won’t the extra evoo upset the omega 3/6 ration thus causing inflammation?

  4. @Richard Stone “One could even argue that the real problem is refined carbohydrates (generally from grass seeds), not “carbohydrates” in general” – not so! I’m insulin dependent, and if I eat more than 30g per day of carbs my fasting bg is out of control. Fasting cures Type II, but not insulin dependent diabetes. My HbA1c is 5.5% on 30g per day, 7.9% on 100g per day

    “people eat carbs and the human body is designed to eat some amount of carbohydrates as part of a normal diet” – that’s only true if you’re not insulin resistant or diabetic in which case carbs become, er, a toxin.

    I haven’t read the study but the concept of feeding diabetics a high glycemic index diet is so fatally flawed that you’ve got to wonder what the ethics committee were thinking.

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