Olive oil may help to bolster up the bones, a study has shown.
Evidence of the effect emerged from a study of men consuming an olive oil-rich Mediterranean diet.
Their blood was found to contain boosted levels of osteocalcin, a marker of healthy bone formation.
Previous laboratory studies have suggested that olive oil may protect against the brittle bone disease osteoporosis
Incidence of osteoporosis is also known to be lower in Mediterranean countries than in the rest of Europe.
"This is the first randomised study which demonstrates that olive oil preserves bone, at least as inferred by circulating bone markers, in humans," said study leader Dr Jose Manuel Fernandez-Real, from the Dr Josep Trueta Hospital in Girona, Spain.
The study participants were 127 men aged 55 to 80, all of whom had at least three known heart disease risk factors or a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
Find out other ways to improve bone density
Natural Ways To Strengthen Your Bones
Try Soy-Based Foods
Calcium-enriched soy foods, like tofu, contain as much as 861mg of calcium, which is a large proportion of your recommended daily allowance. Soy has a similar effect as oestrogen on the body, helping strengthen bones.
Milk is one of the richest sources of calcium. One glass of milk contains 300mg of calcium.
Go In The Sun
Sunshine is a natural vitamin D stimulant. Without vitamin D, the body cannot absorb calcium, a crucial mineral which helps build healthy bones.
Feast On Sardines
Another rich source of calcium. Just 3 ounces of canned sardines has the same calcium equivalent as a cup of milk.
Eight ounces of milk contains the same amount of calcium than milk. Lactose and dairy-free products contain the same amount of calcium than its dairy counterpart.
Cut Back On Salt
A high intake of salt deprives the body of calcium - the vital mineral for maintaining healthy bones. The more salt that is consumed, the more calcium is flushed away through the urine. Sticking to a low-salt diet helps the body retain its natural calcium levels for longer.
Peanuts (unsalted) and almonds are great sources of potassium, which helps protect against the loss of calcium in the body. Nuts are also excellent sources of protein and other vital nutrients that play a supportive role in building strong and healthy bones.
Top Up On Your Greens
Dark,leafy greens are packed full of calcium. Greens such as bok choy, Chinese cabbage and kale have the highest levels of the mineral.
They were put on one of three diets for two years: a Mediterranean diet with mixed nuts, a Mediterranean diet with virgin olive oil, and a regular low-fat diet.
Measurements were taken of osteocalcin, blood glucose and cholesterol.
Only consumption of the Mediterranean diet with olive oil was associated with a significant increase in levels of osteocalcin and other bone formation markers, the scientists found.
The results are due to appear in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Osteocalcin was associated with preserved insulin secretion in men consuming olive oil, which may help guard against diabetes.
"Osteocalcin has also been described to increase insulin secretion in experimental models," said Dr Fernandez-Real.