Olive oil has been at the center of the Mediterranean diet for thousands of years, playing a key role in making this region a 'Blue Zone' - places in the world where people live longer and healthier than anywhere else on earth.
Olive oil consists mostly of a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, which has been studied extensively for its benefits for the heart, but olive oil is also highly protective and nourishing for the brain.
Oleic acid is an important component of our cell membranes, keeping them fluid and flexible. In the brain, this means that neurons can stay responsive and communicative. Additionally, studies on mice showed that oleic acid reduced plaques associated with Alzheimer’s and slowed the progression of the disease.
In addition to its fatty acids, pure unfiltered olive oil is packed with antioxidants including oleocanthal and vitamin E. Oleocanthal reduces inflammation that impacts the brain, improving quick thinking and focus.
Vitamin E is especially protective for the fatty tissues of the brain. This is because the brain is loaded with omega 3 fatty acids that are vulnerable to oxidation. It takes a fat-soluble antioxidant like vitamin E to protect the brain and keep it free from degradation.
Olive oil is extracted from the fleshy part of the fruit, not the seed, meaning that no harsh chemicals or heat are necessary in its production. For maximum flavor, oil quality and antioxidant content, the olives must be cold-pressed and unfiltered. Taste your olive oil - if it's tasteless, the health benefit is minimal. Look for a sharp peppery flavor at the back of your throat. A little burn is a good thing! That indicates a high level of the antioxidants found only in a premium brain-protecting olive oil. It's best to use this oil raw, but if cooking with it, try to use very low heat (if using higher heat, turn to a more stable option such as coconut oil).