There’s nothing quite like a steaming bowl of hot soup when the weather gets cold.
But soup does much more than just warm you up. It’s the perfect way to pack lots of delicious, bone-rejuvenating Foundation Foods into one dish.
As you’ll see in the three scrumptious recipes I share today, the right ingredients can make a simple bowl of soup into a bone-nourishing meal. The “right ingredients” include a surprising food that you may associate more with salad than soup; but the research shows that it actually increases bone density…
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Scientifically Proven To Build Bones
Remarkably, study after study has shown that extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is excellent for bone health. It’s been scientifically proven to increase bone density and much more.
A recent study explored EVOO’s bone-building effects in vivo. One hundred and twenty adult female rats were divided into four groups. The first group acted as a control; the second group had their ovaries removed; the third group had their ovaries removed and were given EVOO; and finally, the rats in the fourth group had their ovaries removed and were given both EVOO and estrogen supplements.
The researchers discovered that,
“EVOO illustrated significant anti-osteoporosis, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties in vivo.” 1
There was an almost equal increase in alkaline phosphatase and serum interleukin-6 in both Group 3 and Group 4,
“…which suggested that olive oil and estrogen probably had the same effect on osteogenesis.” 1
This same report also evaluated human volunteers who took olive oil (or didn’t) following excision of their uterine and bilateral ovarian and fallopian tubes.
Study authors conclude that:
“…in the control group, with no olive oil taken, BMD obviously decreased and t-score categories showed low bone mass compared with the experimental group…This confirmed that olive oil would be a good substitute for estrogen as a bone loss treatment.” 1
Part of olive oil’s secret lies in plant chemicals called phenols that are present in the olive fruit itself.
Research Shows That Phenols In EVOO Prevent Osteoporosis
There is ample evidence showing that a Mediterranean diet greatly decreases the risk of developing osteoporosis and sustaining fractures. To investigate the evidence, researchers conducted a large cohort study consisting of 188,795 participants across eight European countries.
Mean age of the participants was 48.6 years, and their bone health was followed for a period of nine years. Eight hundred and two fractures occurred, and when results were evaluated, the Mediterranean diet was shown to decrease hip fracture incidence by seven percent.
Further, the study’s conclusion notes that:
“High vegetable…and high fruit …intake was associated with decreased hip fracture incidence, whereas high meat intake…with increased incidence.” 2
Remember, meat is not off-limits on the Osteoporosis Reversal Program; but “a high meat intake” is discouraged, and scientific studies like this one further confirm this approach.
Another study focused on levels of osteocalcin and procollagen 1 N-Terminal propeptide (P1NP), both bone-formation markers, in elderly men divided into three groups.
Over a period of two years, the three groups ate a Mediterranean diet, but one group’s diet included 50 milliliters of virgin olive oil (about 3 tablespoons), whereas the second group included 30 grams of mixed nuts and the third group ate a low-fat Mediterranean diet.
The group that consumed the extra virgin olive oil had a “robust increase” in osteocalcin concentration and in P1NP, but no such increase was observed in the low-fat Mediterranean diet group or in the group that ate the mixed nuts.3
As the above data was investigated further, scientists began to uncover the mechanism behind olive oil’s bone-healthy reputation. In a comprehensive report, researchers reviewed a decade’s worth of data on olive oil and osteoporosis.
Here’s their conclusion:
“Published evidence suggests that olive oil phenols can be beneficial by preventing the loss of bone mass.” 4
The reason, the report goes on to say, is that phenols:
“…can modulate the proliferative capacity and cell maturation of osteoblasts by increasing alkaline phosphatase activity and depositing calcium ions in the extracellular matrix.” 4
In other words, olive oil’s phenols work by helping to deposit calcium within bone.
The polyhenols found in olive oil – that is, antioxidant plant compounds made up of phenols – have also been shown to have remarkable bone-healthy effects. Specifically, a polyphenol called oleuropein has been scientifically proven to positively affect the synthesis of osteoblasts.
Oleuropein Prevents Osteoporosis
An exciting study shows that oleuropein, found in abundance in olive oil, prevents bone loss associated with age. Researchers analyzed the effects of oleuropein on two key processes in bone formation: osteoblastogenesis (the proliferation, differentiation, and maturation of osteoblasts) and adipogenesis (the process of cell differentiation).
The scientists looked closely at these processes in human mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow. These stem cells can develop into a variety of human cells, depending on gene expression. The research team discovered something fascinating: oleuropein actually inhibited the formation of adipocytes from stem cells (adipocytes specialize in storing energy as fat in the body), and enhanced the formation of osteoblasts.
Researchers observed that:
“The results show an increase in osteoblast differentiation and a decrease in adipocyte differentiation when there is oleuropein in the culture media.” 5
Even more notable is the conclusion:
“Our data suggest that oleuropein, highly abundant in olive tree products included in the traditional Mediterranean diet, could prevent age-related bone loss and osteoporosis.” 5
And there’s more good news for olive oil lovers…
Olive Oil Is Good For More Than Just Bone Health
- Ample research shows EVOO’s excellent health benefits6, which include the following.
- Anti-inflammatory effects due to oleuropein’s ability to inhibit inflammatory mediators lipoxygenase and leukotriene B4.
- Potent antioxidant activity, including the scavenging of hypochlorous acid, an oxidative substance that damages proteins.
- Cancer prevention by inhibition of certain cancer cells and tumor cells.
- Antimicrobial against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria.
- Antiviral against herpes, mononucleosis, rotavirus, rhinovirus, and some types of respiratory and influenza viruses.
- Neuroprotective activity against Alzheimer’s.
- Cardioprotective against age-related atherosclerosis.
- Skin protectant, acting as a free radical scavenger right on the skin itself.
- Anti-aging effects observed in vitro (increased lifespan of oleuropein-treated cultures).
And these are just a few of the benefits of olive oil – specifically, EVOO, which was used in the research. There are other grades of olive oil, of course, and to clear up confusion let’s take a moment to outline the differences between olive oil, virgin olive oil, and extra virgin olive oil.
Olive Oil vs. Virgin vs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Generally speaking, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is produced using no heat or chemical methods; it’s cold-pressed mechanically. It is basically fruit juice, with a low level of oleic acid.
Virgin olive oil is also processed mechanically, but it is slightly lower quality and has a higher percentage of oleic acid.
Olive oil, or ordinary virgin olive oil, is also mechanically produced, but has a higher oleic acid content than virgin olive oil.
EVOO is considered the highest-quality, most antioxidant-rich, vitamin- and mineral-packed oil available.
Given all the great benefits, you are probably eager to find out more ways to incorporate EVOO in your diet. The best way to get the full benefits of EVOO is at room temperature, since prolonged heat reduces its bioactive components. So it’s a great idea to use it in salad dressings and dips.
Today’s three delicious soup recipes give you more options to include EVOO in your bone-healthy diet, and some of the EVOO is added just before serving, to prevent heat degradation.
1. Lima Bean And Kale Soup
Alkalizing lima beans with kale and garlic make a flavorful, hearty soup.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 5 cups (packed) kale, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 pound lima beans, cooked and well drained
- 1 pound finely diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried basil, or 1 tablespoon fresh
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme, or 2 teaspoons fresh
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Heat olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Sauté garlic for one minute. Stir in kale, vinegar, and broth and bring to a boil.
- Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer, covered, until kale is wilted (about 7 minutes).
- Stir in beans and tomatoes, cover, and simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes or until it reaches desired consistency. Add more broth if soup is too thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper and mix 2 tablespoons of olive oil just before serving.
2. Nutty Sweet Potato Soup
With sweet potatoes, cashews, and tomato sauce, this soup is perfect for autumn.
- 2 large sweet potatoes, cooked and peeled
- 1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup tomato sauce
- 4 cups water
- 2 tablespoons almond milk or your favorite milk substitute
- 1/2 cup cashew halves, raw
- Pinch of dried thyme (optional)
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Peel and coarsely mash the sweet potatoes in a large bowl. Scoop potatoes into a large, heavy saucepan and heat on medium-high.
- Stir in the olive oil, water, tomato sauce, and almond milk.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper, and thyme, and stir in cashews. Bring mixture to a boil, and turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer until cashews are soft (about an hour). Add 1 tablespoon olive oil before serving and mix well.
3. Cozy Cauliflower Soup
This is a creamy, smooth, pureed soup with the nutty, and comforting flavor of cauliflower.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium white onions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 head of cauliflower (about 2 pounds), trimmed and cut into florets
- 4 ½ cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 cup coconut milk
- Black pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté the onions with ¼ teaspoon salt for about 8 minutes.
- When onions are translucent, turn the heat down to low and stir in the garlic.
- Sauté for about 2 minutes, and add the rest of the ingredients except the coconut milk.
- Stir in the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt.
- Bring the soup to a boil, and turn the heat to low and simmer for 15 to 17 minutes (or until cauliflower is tender).
- Puree the soup in a blender until smooth (you may have to work in batches, pouring the pureed soup back into the pot to keep warm).
- When all the soup is pureed and back in the pot, stir in the coconut milk and add salt and pepper to taste. Add 1 tablespoon EVOO just before serving.
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1 Liu, Huilan, et al. “Olive oil in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis after artificial menopause.” Clin Interv Aging. December 2014. 9:2087-2095. Doi: 10.2147/CIA.S72006. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4259560/
2 Benetou, V., et al. “Mediterranean diet and incidence of hip fractures in a European cohort.” Osteoporosis International. May 2013. Vol. 24, issue 5, pp 1587-1598. Web. http://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00198-012-2187-3
3 Fernandez-Real, José, et al. “A Mediterranean Diet Enriched with Olive Oil Is Associated with Higher Serum Total Osteocalcin Levels in Elderly Men at High Cardiovascular Risk.” JCEM. July 2012. Doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/jc.2012-2221. Web. http://press.endocrine.org/doi/abs/10.1210/jc.2012-2221
4 Garcia-Martinez, Olga, et al. “The effect of olive oil on osteoporosis prevention.” International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition. June 2014. Vol. 65, issue 7. Doi: 10.3109/09637486.2014.931361. Web. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/09637486.2014.931361
5 Santiago-Mora, R., et al. “Oleuropein enhances osteoblastogenesis and inhibits adipogenesis: the effect on differentiation in stem cells derived from bone marrow.” Osteoporosis International. February 2011. (2): 675-84. Doi: 10.1007/s00198-010-1270-x. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20495905
6 Omar, Syed Haris. “Oleuropein in Olive and its Pharmacological Effects.” Scientia Pharmaceutica. June 30, 2010. 78(2): 133-154. Doi: 10.3797/scipharm.0912-18. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3002804/