According to a 2016 study by Diabetes Care, olive oil consumed together with carbohydrates, reduces the body's glycemic response to them to a significant degree.
What does this mean?
There are three macronutrients, all necessary for the body in the right proportions: protein, fat and carbohydrates.
Of these three, only one, carbohydrates, affects blood sugar. When our body digests carbohydrates, it breaks them down to sugar, or glucose. This glucose enters the bloodstream, raising blood sugar. This is called a glycemic response.
Raised levels of blood sugar and large fluctuations in it are not good for weight control as they cause cravings, moodiness etc. making it hard to control calorie intake.
Olive oil has been shown to keep blood sugar stable after a meal thereby reducing overeating and cravings. So next time you have that freshly baked, crusty bread dip it in olive oil rather than spread butter on it and your blood sugar levels will not spike.
It is this mechanism that makes high quality olive oil particularly beneficial to people with diabetes.
Don't forget that your body needs to get 20-35% of its daily calorie intake from fat (adults), according to the National Academy of Medicine. So for someone on a 1,500 calorie per day intake that would mean a minimum of 300 calories going up to 500 calories per day need to come from good quality fat for our body to work at its best. The guidance is for a minimum of 2 tablespoons of olive oil per day (equivalent to about 30ml, ie 210-240 calories per day).
In Mediterranean countries people who follow the Mediterranean diet will consume double or triple that amount every day without an adverse effect on their weight. Olive oil does not function in a simplistically additive way in our diet, looking strictly at calories from fat. It works more like a catalyst, keeping carbohydrates healthy and enhancing the nutritional value of cooked vegetables through its protective antioxidants that no other source of fat can match. Not all fats are created equal, with huge differences in how beneficial they are (and with some of them actually causing harm). When choosing a high quality olive oil you have many added-on nutritional benefits from the antioxidants, vitamins, high levels of heart-protective monounsaturated fatty acids etc it contains.
For more in-depth, scientific information on consuming extra virgin olive oil to help manage diabetes and control weight through the reduction in glycemic load of foods pls go to this article.
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