With diabetes and obesity on the rise in Thailand, it comes as good news that a research team at Virginia Tech in the United States recently isolated for the first time exactly why olive oil presents a low-cost method to help diabetes prevention and assist loss of unhealthy body mass.
Oleuropein, a compound in olive oil, was proven to encourage the body to secrete more insulin – a molecule that controls metabolism and blood-sugar levels.
With 32 per cent of Thailand’s population deemed overweight and 7.7 million at risk of developing diabetes, on top of the estimated four million who are already diagnosed, the findings come at a crucial juncture.
“Our work provides new mechanistic insights into the long-standing question of why olive products can be anti-diabetic,” says Dr Bin Xu, assistant professor at Virginia Tech.
“We believe it will have an impact on the public to pay more attention to olive products in light of the current diabetes epidemic.”
The study results, published in the journal Biochemistry by the American Chemical Society, indicated that a type of phenolic bitter compound found in olives assists the body to secrete extra insulin.
The rise of this hormone allows cells to more easily use sugar for energy. Furthermore, insulin acts as a signalling molecule in the body that controls metabolism, and when released makes it more difficult for the body to store fat and gain weight.
Olive oil has long been viewed as a key diet factor in assisting long-life expectancy and health. But previously the exact biochemical factors behind its health-giving properties had not been isolated.
These findings provide Thais at risk of diabetes or obesity an easy method to prevent and regulate the onset of diabetes and assist in weight reduction by eating Olive oil regularly as part of a balanced diet.
“We have always known that olive oil presents many health and nutritional benefits,” says Alberto Perez Martin, head of Bertolli Thailand and Asia.
“But to have a study of this calibre explain the exact active compound that can help both diabetes and weight loss is knowledge we hope can easily assist our customers in Thailand if they would like to lead healthier lives.”