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How Extra Virgin Olive Oil Combats Dyslipidemia in Diabetics

What is dyslipidemia?

Dyslipidemia refers to abnormal lipid (or fat) concentrations in the blood and is commonly associated with type 2 diabetes. The most common lipid abnormalities seen in type 2 diabetics is elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglyceride levels with decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels (1). Research shows that abnormal lipid levels are one of the leading risks associated with cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack (2). Decreasing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels is typically the first approach recommended by doctors, aimed to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease in type 2 diabetes with dyslipidemia (1). To treat dyslipidemia, a patient is typically prescribed a statin, such as atorvastatin, to help lower LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol. 

How extra virgin olive oil can help:

In a recent study, Khan, Iqbal, and Rashid (3) performed a randomized trial on 60 participants previously diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Their aim was to observe the effects of atorvastatin versus extra virgin olive oil in the treatment of dyslipidemia in type 2 diabetics.

Study results indicated that although atorvastatin showed greater lowering effects of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, extra virgin olive oil was also a good alternative as it has effective lipid-lowering capabilities (3). When it came to raising HDL cholesterol levels, extra virgin olive oil showed almost the same capability as atorvastatin (3). The results showed that atorvastatin decreased triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels by 20-40%, while extra virgin olive oil  lowered it by 14-25%. For HDL cholesterol levels, atorvastatin increased them by 9-16%, while extra virgin olive oil increased them very similarly, by 8-12% (3).

Why choose extra virgin olive oil?

Extra virgin olive oil can be used to help lower both LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in those with type 2 diabetes, which might aid in the prevention of developing cardiovascular disease later on. To attain lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, extra virgin olive oil can be used on its own, or in combination with low dose atorvastatin (3). If your main goal is to increase HDL cholesterol, extra virgin olive oil might be a good choice for you because its effect of increasing HDL cholesterol levels was on par with that of atorvastatin, but without the side effects commonly seems with statins (3).

Extra virgin olive oil is not only effective at addressing dyslipidemia, but it is also easily implemented, widely accessible, and has minimal side effects compared to traditional statins.

How can I use extra virgin olive oil?

Extra virgin olive oil can be used in almost any meal, from salads to meats to pasta dishes. Here are some mouth-watering ways to incorporate extra virgin olive oil into your diet:

  • Drizzle pan-seared seafood with extra virgin olive oil and top with parsley for a fresh finish
  • Add extra virgin olive oil on top of your pizza for a rich, Italian touch
  • Toast sliced baguette with garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and a pinch of parmesan in the oven for a twist on your typical garlic bread

If adding more extra virgin olive oil into your diet sounds like something that would interest you, Olivaio is here to help. We deliver high quality extra virgin olive oil fresh from the source straight to your door.

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.