olives in a bowl

Effective diabetes prevention and management remain a public health challenge. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 422 million people worldwide have diabetes, and 1.5 million deaths annually are attributed to it.3 Lifestyle modifications which entail healthy eating, physical activity, and medication are routine treatments for diabetes. Recent studies have linked the Mediterranean diet to be beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes. This diet consists of legumes, nuts, vegetables, fish, wholegrain foods, and olive oil.4 Some studies have shown that olives alone may play a role in mitigating diabetes. But are olives good for diabetics?


Olives contain oleuropein in large amounts, which can lower blood sugar by stimulating the pancreas to secrete insulin.

Insulin works to maintain normal blood sugar levels by promoting sugar uptake by the cells, which preserves the internal balance of the body.5 Insulin is a critical regulatory factor in diabetes. If it is somewhat out of the normal range, this can lead to early signs of diabetes.

Oleuropein also facilitates improved glucose transport and increases insulin sensitivity to prevent hyperglycemia, the medical term for high sugar levels.5 Preclinical studies have suggested that oleuropein may help to prevent diabetes, but further research must be carried out to verify this claim.

Clinical studies have been conducted to evaluate commercial preparations of oleuropein to establish the appropriate intake and exposure time for the most effective results.5 These studies focus on whether olives are suitable for diabetics.

Oleuropein may also have other health benefits. Oleuropein has antioxidant properties alongside anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. The antioxidant properties fight cell stress which is significant because oxidative stress can also lead to insulin dysfunction.

Below are some ways to incorporate olives into your daily diet.

Ways to incorporate olives into your diet

  • Sliced olives for salads, sandwiches, or pasta
  • Olives for toppings on flat bread or pizza  
  • Olives with cheese and dried fruit as a snack
  • Use of olive oil instead of other types of oil

Ultimately, those with diabetes must make lifestyle changes to control sugar levels and remain healthy. Whether that means becoming more physically active or changing dietary habits, these measures can make a difference to those with diabetes. Always speak with your healthcare provider about making any dietary or lifestyle changes.


  1. Kharroubi AT, Dawwish HM. Diabetes mellitus: The epidemic of the century. World journal of diabetes. 2015;6;850-867.
  2. What is diabetes?. Diabetes Canada. https://www.diabetes.ca/about-diabetes/what-is-diabetes. Accessed on April 8, 2022.
  3. Diabetes. The World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/health-topics/diabetes#tab=tab_1. Accessed on April 8, 2022.
  4. Milenkovic T, Bozhinovska N, Macut D, et al. Mediterranean Diet and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Perpetual Inspiration for the Scientific World. A Review. Nutrients. 2021;13;1307.
  5. Da Porto A, Brosolo G, Casarsa V, et al. The Pivotal Role of Oleuropein in the Anti-Diabetic Action of the Mediterranean Diet: A Concise Review. Pharmaceutics. 2021;2022;14;40.

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