Although many people are aware of the great health benefits of olive oil in the diet, few realize that it can also have a powerful impact on brain health. An essential component of the famous ‘Mediterranean Diet’, researchers has long been interested in olive oil.
Researchers have now demonstrated that olive oil’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities lower the risk of heart problems and also protect the digestive tract. Moreover, research has also demonstrated olive oil’s ability to reduce the risk of some kinds of cancer.
According to research conducted in the US, Belgium, Spain, and Ireland, the risk of breast cancer and upper digestive tract cancer can be lessened by consuming as little as 2 tablespoons of olive oil daily.
As if these wonderful health benefits of olive oil are not enough, research has now pointed to the powerful contribution olive oil can make to brain health. Research from France has now demonstrated olive oil’s ability to actually improve the brain’s cognitive function.
A recent large-scale study of older adults demonstrated that people’s visual memory and verbal fluency could actually be improved through regular use of olive oil. In a different research, olive oil was given to laboratory animals whose brain function had been affected by the lack of oxygen.
The simple addition of olive oil to the diets of these animals had an amazing effect – It significantly reduced a variety of brain-related problems, including irregular nervous system activity and the ability of molecules to pass easily across the blood-brain barrier.
This special ability to protect the brain during times of stress has enormous potential for brain health and is the subject of ongoing research. In another very recent large and well-designed study, researchers also found that olive oil had the ability to stave off strokes.
Strokes are potentially life-threatening and serious medical emergencies that result from blood being cut off from the brain. Though those over the age of 65 are most at risk, a full 25% of all strokes occur in people below that age. Because strokes do not respect age, even children can have them.
This well-constructed study involved more than 8000 people and had a full 6-year follow-up period which enabled results to be confirmed over time. The results were truly astounding. The researchers found that people who included plenty of olive oil in their diet had a whopping 41% lower risk of having a stroke than those who did not use olive oil at all!
The powerful health benefits of olive oil are derived mainly from its more than two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds such as polyphenols. Olive oil has a high percentage of oleic acid — a full 70% — and this greatly aids the body to maintain a healthy balance of LDL and HDL cholesterol. Also, olive oil is abundant in anti-oxidants which have the ability to protect the body – and brain – from damage.
The most beneficial olive oil is extra virgin. This type of oil is the unrefined oil extracted from the first pressing of the olives. Not only does it contain the highest degree of important compounds and healthy nutrients, but it also has the most delicate and delicious flavor. If you really value your health and are determined to maintain a healthy brain, then extra virgin olive oil is one of the best brain foods you can take.