There’s a lot been written about bone health when it comes to women’s health and ageing, but little has been written about the connection between bone strengthening and olives.
I was fascinated when my studies on women’s healthy ageing and bone-protecting nutrients led me down the path towards the ancient, anti-inflammatory and bone protective effects of olives and Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Chin & Ima-Nirwana, 2016; Quatrinni et al, 2021).
We all know that skeletal degeneration and osteoporosis is a major concern for women as they transition from menopause to their post-menopause years beyond, and whilst there is a lot of attention being paid to calcium, there is less attention being paid to inflammation – part of the reason for osteoporosis in the first-place ( Andreo-López, 2023; Ginaldi et al, 2005).
So, what practical things can we do about this? That’s the question I asked myself when my own bone density showed some decline. After years of high impact sporting activities, I wasn’t surprised when the Bone Technician showed me the result. When I went back a year later for a retest, she couldn’t believe the 10% turn-around.
“What did you do?” she enquired. “I haven’t seen this turn-around in osteoporosis without medications.” So, I told her all about the research on the Mediterranean Diet and of course, the association between the anti-inflammatory compounds in olives and Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which influence bone density and prevent osteoporosis in older women.
Several factors contribute to the development of osteoporosis in post-menopausal women, including, low-grade inflammation, poor dietary habits, sedentary and unhealthy lifestyles, such as smoking and alcohol consumption (Quattrini et al, 2021). An optimal dietary calcium intake is necessary for bone health at all stages of life, but even more so as we age. So, too are the anti-inflammatory foods that we include in our diet, olives being one of them.
I became intrigued about the components in the traditional Mediterranean Diet when undertaking my studies, because I was reading that the incidence of osteoporosis and fragility fractures is lower in the Mediterranean areas. (Chin et al, 2016).
One of the reasons put forward by nutritional researchers working in the area of bone health, is that inflammation and oxidative stress are gaining greater recognition in osteoporosis research. Hence, interest has been growing in nutritional compounds in foods which turn around inflammation, and these types of compounds are an important part of the Mediterranean diet.
When I found this recipe by Olive Oil Sommelier, Dr Carol Firenze (PhD) from Italy, who is the Founder of The Passionate Olive website, and received her permission to share it, I knew I had to include it for you below. I hope you enjoy making it, knowing that your bone strengthening nutrition will be enhanced when you savor its delicious taste.
- 2 cups pitted, cured olives (Taggiasca or Kalamata)
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
- Pinch of fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Optional pairings: MyMT™ Focaccia Bread (see recipe below), Gluten Free Bread, Sourdough, Crackers.
- Make sure all olives are pitted.
- In a blender, mix the rosemary and thyme (you may substitute a mortar and pestle in this step)
- Add the olives (or olive pieces).
- Blend thoroughly until the mixture forms an olive paste. Remove from the blender and place mixture into a bowl.
- Stir in the anchovy paste.
- Add the extra virgin olive oil a teaspoon at a time, keeping the olive paste more on the “dry” side.
Andreo-López MC, Contreras-Bolívar V, García-Fontana B, García-Fontana C, Muñoz-Torres M. The Influence of the Mediterranean Dietary Pattern on Osteoporosis and Sarcopenia. Nutrients. 2023 Jul 20;15(14):3224. doi: 10.3390/nu15143224.
Chin KY, Ima-Nirwana S. Olives and Bone: A Green Osteoporosis Prevention Option. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2016 Jul 26;13(8):755. doi: 10.3390/ijerph13080755.
Firenze, C. (2023). https://thepassionateolive.com
Ginaldi L, Di Benedetto MC, De Martinis M. Osteoporosis, inflammation and ageing. Immun Ageing. 2005 Nov 4;2:14. doi: 10.1186/1742-4933-2-14. PMID: 16271143
Quattrini S, Pampaloni B, Gronchi G, Giusti F, Brandi ML. The Mediterranean Diet in Osteoporosis Prevention: An Insight in a Peri- and Post-Menopausal Population. Nutrients. 2021 Feb 6;13(2):531. doi: 10.3390/nu13020531.