Olive oil truly does it all.
In a recent study, researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine (LKSOM) at Temple University showed that extra-virgin olive oil sustains cognitive memories, strengthens the brain's ability to hold information, and reduces the likeliness of developing Alzheimer's disease.
The discovery also sheds new light on the many health benefits attributed to the Mediterranean diet, which includes lots of vegetable and olive oil consumption paired with a moderate protein intake.
Dr. Domenico Praticò, a professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Microbiology and the Center for Translational Medicine at LKSOM, told EurekAlert,
The thinking is that extra-virgin olive oil is better than fruits and vegetables alone, and as a monounsaturated vegetable fat it is healthier than saturated animal fats.
This doesn't mean you have to clear your kitchen of fruits, veggies, and animal protein in exchange for olive oil only (though think of how much money you'd save on groceries!), but the study definitely shows why it could very well be an essential component to your lifestyle.
Here's how researchers created the study.
Dr. Praticò and his team used a well-established mouse model to grasp a better understanding of the connection between Alzheimer's and olive oil.
The animals shared three prominent characteristics of this class of dementia: memory impairment, amyloid plagues, and neurofibrillary tangles.
From there, the mice were divided into two groups: one that was fed high levels of olive oil, while the other was fed a regular “chow” diet.
And here's what they found.
To the naked eye, there was no visible difference between the two groups of animals over the course of a 12-month period.
However, when tested on their cognitive performance, mice that were given ample amounts of olive oil surpassed the others by far.
Dr. Praticò explained,
Thanks to the autophagy activation, memory and synaptic integrity were preserved, and the pathological effects in animals otherwise destined to develop Alzheimer's disease were significantly reduced. This is a very important discovery, since we suspect that a reduction in autophagy marks the beginning of Alzheimer's disease.
I've personally watched two loved ones lose themselves to Alzhemier's disease and dementia. It's truly a terrifying reality that anyone could lose the ability to remember so many important life moments, like your wedding day or first real job, as well as the little things, like your name or address.
If implementing extra-virgin olive oil into your lifestyle could be a deciding factor, it's certainly worth the extra (and, let's be real, minimal) effort.
But olive oil has even more benefits you should know about.
A multipurpose ingredient in its own right, olive oil should be integrated into your lifestyle so you can reap all its many physical benefits.
Does your hair lack that lustrous shine? Heat half a cup of olive oil and thread it through dry hair. Let the mixture set and absorb into strands for 45 minutes before giving it a thorough rinse. This will act as a conditioning mask, resulting in healthy, shiny hair.
Low on lip scrub? Use olive oil as a base, and combine with coarse sugar and a smidgen of lemon juice to heal cracked, parched skin.
And for those awful moments of desperation when your leg hair has passed its stubble prime and you're all out of shaving cream, olive oil makes an excellent substitute for shaving lotions, as it protects against cuts and irritation in addition to promising a silky-to-the-touch finish.
The list goes on and on. Bottom line? Buy a bottle.
For all you know, it'll save your life.