Do you savor golden-green olive oil, drizzled over vine-ripe tomatoes, roasted veggies and colorful salads? If so, you may be helping to guard against one of the most prevalent degenerative diseases – diabetes.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the relationship between specific fatty acids in the blood and how the body metabolizes glucose.

After a three-week, high saturated fat diet, 31 subjects with impaired glucose tolerance – also known as pre-diabetes – were put on a “Mono” (primarily monounsaturated fats) or “Poly” (primarily polyunsaturated fats ) diet for eight weeks.

The study, conducted at the University of Kuopio, Finland, found that those subjects with higher amounts of oleic acid, a monounsaturated from olive oil, and alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid, had the most improvement in fasting plasma glucose.

For years we’ve known that monounsaturated-rich olive oil, common in the Mediterranean diet, helps to reduce inflammation and heart disease risk. Now you can add diabetes protection to olive oil’s long list of reputed health benefits.