The Mediterranean diet could protect people's bone health, a study has shown.
Research to be published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism from the Endocrine Society found consuming foods high in olive oil for 24 months is linked to higher levels of osteocalcin concentrations in blood serum, which indicates that this could protect people's skeletal system.
A total of 127 males aged between 55 and 80 years old were involved in the research.
These participants were selected from Prevencion con Dieta Mediterranea control centres, which provide a randomised and controlled trial through large parallel groups.
Subjects in the study did not have any prior diagnosis of cardiovascular disease, but had at least three risk factors for the condition, which include dyslipidemia (high blood cholesterol levels), hypertension and a family history of premature cases of the ailment.
They were then put in one of three intervention groups, which either involved a low-fat diet, Mediterranean food consumption including mixed nuts, or virgin olive oil in a Mediterranean diet.
People who consumed the Mediterranean diet with olive oil were discovered to have higher concentrations of bone formation markets such as osteocalcin, while there were no notable decreases in their levels of serum calcium.
In the other two groups, there was a significant fall in serum calcium, while positive bone formation substances were also not found to notably rise in the participants.
People relocating abroad to the Mediterranean may therefore find they are reducing their likelihood of developing problems with their bones, including decreased bone strength and age-related bone mass loss, which can lead to a heightened risk of fractures or osteoporosis.
These conditions, which can require treatment through international health insurance, are significantly more commonplace among the elderly.
Earlier research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found the Mediterranean diet also improves physical and mental health, while investigations undertaken by the University of Gothenburg's Sahlgrenska Academy revealed people with these eating habits typically live for three years longer than those who do not.
"This is the first randomised study which demonstrates that olive oil preserves bone – at least as inferred by circulating bone markers – in humans," lead author of the study Dr Jose Fernandez-Real of Girona, Spain's Hospital Dr Josep Trueta said.