Can Extra Virgin Olive Oil Decrease Blood Glucose Spikes After Meals?

In the late 1970s, the government began telling Americans to eat less fat. For more than a decade, fats were condemned, and low-fat and fat-free products filled supermarket shelves. Yet, by the end of the century, with more alternative products than ever, Americans got fatter.

As the intake of fat went down, the intake of carbohydrates, often in the form of simple sugar, went up. Mirroring the growth of carbohydrate consumption, the rate of type 2 diabetes reached an all-time high. To curb the increasing rate of overweight and obesity, fats, particularly healthy ones, become fair game again.

In recent years, healthy fats have gotten a lot of attention. This is partly due to their association with weight management and type 2 diabetes.

One of the most common healthy fats that can be found in American households is extra virgin olive oil. Consumed throughout the Mediterranean and world for years, it is a staple in many well-balanced diets. But why is it so healthy, and how can it help those with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes? Well, we’ve recently learned that extra virgin olive oil is shown to help decrease the blood glucose spike typically seen post-meal.

Because of extra virgin olive oils effect on lowering blood glucose levels post-meal, it can be beneficial to those with impaired fasting glucose or prediabetes, as well as those with type 2 diabetes. Not only has it has shown to lower blood glucose levels post-meal, but it has also been shown to increase levels of insulin, the hormone that helps lower blood glucose, in those who consumed extra virgin olive oil with their meals.

In a recent study, Carnevale et al. (1), randomly gave 30 people with impaired fasting glucose one of two meals with similar calories and nutrients, with the main difference being that one meal contained extra virgin olive oil, and the other meal did not. Serum levels of both glucose and insulin were taken from the participants to measure the effect of adding it to some of the meals. Results showed those who consumed 10 g of extra virgin olive oil with their meals had a 20% reduction in post-meal blood glucose levels, compared to those who did not. The research of Carnevale et al. (1) also showed that those who ate the meal containing extra virgin olive oil resulted in 40% higher levels of insulin post-meal, which is beneficial in bringing down glucose levels.

Similar results were seen by Soriguer et al. (2). In their study, results showed that people who consumed olive oil had a lower risk of obesity and impaired glucose regulation. According to the World Health Organization (3), impaired glucose regulation refers to the metabolic state between normal glucose and type 2 diabetes, meaning it’s a form of prediabetes.

So what does this mean for you?

If you’re interested in adding more extra virgin olive oil to your diet, Olivaio can help. Olivaio offers high-quality extra virgin olive oil direct from the source, and by incorporating a small amount of it into meals, research tells us it has a beneficial effect on those with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Carnevale et al. (1) went as far as saying, “Recent findings demonstrated that extra virgin olive oil reduces new-onset diabetes.”

Based on the research of Carnevale et al. (1), implementing just 10 g (or 2 tsp) of extra virgin olive oil to a meal can have a significant effect on reducing blood glucose levels post-meal in those with impaired fasting glucose.

Here are some easy ways you can add more extra virgin olive oil to your meals:

  1. Make your own salad dressing with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), lemon, and herbs
  2. Use it as a marinade for meats
  3. Drizzle it on top of your cooked veggies
  4. Toss your pasta in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) instead of butter

Are you ready to start adding more extra virgin olive oil into your diet? If so, check out our products and other resources on our website!

Written by Isabelle Hammack
Reviewed by Kelly Powers, MA, RDN, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who takes a holistic approach to nutrition and health. Kelly is a recipe developer with a food blog highlighting whole foods, simple recipes, and her life in San Francisco. She’s the creator of 52 Weeks, a weekly meal plan program that helps users get back in the kitchen and feed themselves well. Kelly is also a co-founder of Olivaio.