Skeletal degeneration due to aging, also known as osteoporosis, is a major health problem worldwide. Certain dietary components confer protection to our skeletal system against osteoporosis. Consumption of olives, olive oil and olive polyphenols has been shown to improve bone health. This review aims to summarize the current evidence from cellular, animal and human studies on the skeletal protective effects of olives, olive oil and olive polyphenols. Animal studies showed that supplementation of olives, olive oil or olive polyphenols could improve skeletal health assessed via bone mineral density, bone biomechanical strength and bone turnover markers in ovariectomized rats, especially those with inflammation. The beneficial effects of olive oil and olive polyphenols could be attributed to their ability to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. However, variations in the bone protective, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects between studies were noted. Cellular studies demonstrated that olive polyphenols enhanced proliferation of pre-osteoblasts, differentiation of osteoblasts and decreased the formation of osteoclast-like cells. However, the exact molecular pathways for its bone health promoting effects are yet to be clearly elucidated. Human studies revealed that daily consumption of olive oil could prevent the decline in bone mineral density and improve bone turnover markers. As a conclusion, olives, olive oil and its polyphenols are potential dietary interventions to prevent osteoporosis among the elderly.
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