Harvard Women's Health Watch

Olive oil consumption linked with slightly lower diabetes risk for women

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Using olive oil, especially in place of trans fats and saturated fats, has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. Recently, scientists from two universities in Spain collaborated with Harvard researchers to examine whether olive oil had a protective effect against developing diabetes as an adult.

The team analyzed data from 145,000 women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Studies I and II. The women answered very detailed questionnaires about their diets every four years, including questions about how much olive oil they consumed daily. Over 22 years, about 9,650 of those women had developed diabetes. When the researchers analyzed the data, they determined that consuming at least a tablespoon of olive oil a day was associated with a 10% lower risk of developing diabetes. The study was published online July 8, 2015, by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Although the study indicates a fairly modest effect on diabetes risk, it hints at yet another reason to substitute olive oil for saturated fat on salads, in cooking, and as a dip for bread.