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Have you ever found yourself stuck in the oil aisle unable to decide what bottle to purchase?
Should you go with classic — but controversial — canola? Hip hempseed? Antioxidant-rich avocado?
Personally, I’d stick with an old standby — olive oil. But even then, you have to decide whether it’s worth it to splurge for the “extra virgin” variety. My advice? It is.
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is lower in chemicals and free radicals and higher in antioxidants and healthy fats. That’s probably why it’s tied to so many impressive health benefits…
Like lower cholesterol, a reduced risk of heart disease and even a lower risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
The last one on the list is a biggie. Losing memory and cognitive abilities is a huge fear for most people. So, if a spoonful of EVOO here and there can make a difference in your dementia risk, it’s very good news…
How EVOO protects the brain
Researchers from Temple University just discovered that extra virgin olive oil can help protect mice from dangerous protein build-up in the brain.
There’s a popular theory that the accumulation of a protein called tau in the brain contributes to cognitive decline and dementia. And in this study, researchers found that extra virgin olive oil helps reduce the accumulation of tau.
In the study, researchers modified the genes of mice to make them prone to tau build-up. Then they split these mice into two groups. One group received a diet that included lots of extra virgin olive oil and the other received a normal diet.
Researchers started these diets when the mice were six months old and had them follow the diets for a year. That would be like starting an extra virgin olive oil-rich diet at 30 years old and continuing until about 60 years old as a human.
After that year was up, researchers checked the mice’s brains for tau deposits. And guess what?
Mice getting plenty of EVOO had less tau build-up in their brains. They also had better cognitive abilities. And they scored higher in memory tests.
Researchers said the EVOO improved synaptic activity (the connection between brain cells) and short‐term neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to change, grow and learn new things) too.
This isn’t the first study these researchers conducted on brain health and extra virgin olive oil. In a past study, they found that mice prone to Alzheimer’s disease had less memory loss and cognitive impairment when they ate extra virgin olive oil. It also reduced the amount of amyloid protein in the brain, another protein tied to Alzheimer’s disease.
“EVOO has been a part of the human diet for a very long time and has many benefits for health, for reasons that we do not yet fully understand,” said senior researcher Domenico Praticò. “The realization that EVOO can protect the brain against different forms of dementia gives us an opportunity to learn more about the mechanisms through which it acts to support brain health.”
Going gung-ho for EVOO
Clearly, EVOO has amazing potential when it comes to brain health. In fact, it’s part of the reason the Mediterranean diet is considered so good for the brain. The Mediterranean diet is chock-full of EVOO, after all.
If you want to incorporate more extra virgin olive oil in your diet, there’s no better time. And there are plenty of simple ways to do that…
You can make (or buy) salad dressing that includes EVOO. Use EVOO for cooking instead of other oils or butter. Or dip bread in EVOO (my personal favorite) for an appetizer or snack. You can even add a spoonful or two of EVOO to your fruit smoothie without it changing the taste.
If you need more EVOO inspiration, here are a few specific recipes to get you started:
- Marinated Cannellini Beans
- Superfood Detox Salad
- Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions
- Cucumber, Tomato, and Onion Salad
Editor’s Note: If you just pay $1 to help cover the shipping costs… The Olive Oil Hunter, TJ Robinson, will send you a complimentary $39 bottle of one of the greatest olive oils I’ve ever tasted… You must check this out
Extra virgin olive oil may protect against various dementias — Medical News Today
Is extra virgin olive oil better than olive oil? — Medical News Today