OLIVE OIL HAS long been touted as one of the best ways to get heart-healthy fats in your diet. The Mediterranean diet staple is also tied to a bunch of other health benefits like protecting your brain against dementia and destroying cancer cells.

Now, biochemists have scrutinized compounds from the helpful oil to find out why it also provides benefits like weight loss and prevention of type-2 diabetes.

The new study, which was published in the journal Biochemistry, tested the olive-sourced compound called oleuropein. Researchers found that oleuropein helps the body produce more insulin, which helps regulate metabolism and allows cells to use sugar for energy, making you less likely to pack on pounds. They also discovered that the compound helps tamp down toxic levels of a hormone called amylin, which is found in folks with diabetes.

“Our work provides new mechanistic insights into the long-standing question of why olive products can be anti-diabetic,” said study lead Bin Xu, Ph.D., assistant professor of biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech. “We believe it will not only contribute to the biochemistry of the functions of the olive component oleuropein, but also have an impact on the general public to pay more attention to olive products in light of the current diabetes epidemic.”