Many of us are aware of how much better genuine Moroccan extra virgin olive oil tastes in comparison to unauthentic products on the market, but did you know that it has lots of health benefits too?
Domenico Pratico, director of the Alzheimer’s Center at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine (LKSOM) at Temple University, recently spoke out about how having two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil a day could be effective in warding off Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular diseases, and other age-related conditions.
The scientist and his team released a study in Aging Cell that showed the oil can defend against a certain type of mental decline when tested in mice, by clearing out the damaged and toxic cells that accumulate as we age.
Speaking with Philly Mag, Mr Pratico noted previous studies have been conducted that have shown extra virgin olive oil can preserve memory and protect the brain against cognitive decline.
He observed: “For the people with the extra virgin olive oil, their cognitive markers showed no change and for the people without it, those markers were going up, showing progression towards cognitive decline. Their brains were ageing at a much faster pace.”
His study looked more closely at whether extra virgin olive oil could influence the progression of Alzheimer’s phenotype and how.
Mr Pratico stated: “Extra virgin olive oil is a natural activator of autophagy, the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells… For us, that’s a very big breakthrough from our study.”
The researcher went on to advise consumers who want to increase their extra olive oil intake to buy pure versions, as the product used in the study “comes directly from the tree”.
He noted that extra virgin olive oil is superior, as it has been extracted from the first press of the olive, instead of heated or treated with chemicals to encourage more oil to be squeezed out of the fruit.
The scientist also recommended that for maximum benefit these two tablespoons are eaten at room temperature and not heated up.
“The moment you cook the oil, because of the temperature, you change the composition,” Mr Pratico noted, adding: “You must eat it the way it is.”
One of the tastiest ways to do this is by dressing your salad in extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, so you can gain the health benefits while still enjoying a delicious meal.
It is not just salads that taste delightful with some extra virgin olive oil drizzled on top, as desserts, such as thyme cake with figs and black pepper; pasta dishes like penne with pine nuts and Romano cheese; and starters, including sautéed calamari with garlic and extra virgin olive oil, are all scrumptious too.
In addition to being able to improve cognitive health, particularly in the ageing population, extra virgin olive oil has been linked to reducing inflammation, boosting bone health, lowering blood pressure, and keeping the digestive track in working order.