Why extra virgin olive oil is one of the best brain foods
Have you ever tried to slurp up extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) from a spoon like you are eating a soup? Probably not, but in case you’ve done it, you should have felt a spicy feeling in the back of your throat. In other words, you’ve felt Oleocanthal.
Oleocanthal is a compound that powerfully stimulates our bodies’ own repair mechanisms when we consume it. It possesses anti-inflammatory effects so powerful that it is comparable to taking a small dose of ibuprofen. In addition, in this case you avoid the risk of any side effects.1
Inflammation can neutralize the ability of the brain to change (neuroplasticity) and it can also cause depression. 2 Therefore, oleocanthal is a substantial help from a brain health perspective.
It is probably not a big surprise, but olive oil is also an important component in the Mediterranean Diet. I’ve already mentioned briefly the brain benefits of these types of foods when I wrote about wild salmon. People who stick to this diet have a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.3 Oleocanthal can be a major reason behind that too, since it can help the brain clear itself of the amyloid plaque. (The sticky protein that aggregates to toxic levels in Alzheimer’s disease.)4
EVOO is also a great source of Vitamin E. This antioxidant protects fatty structures, like the brain, from the negative effects of ageing. Moreover, vitamin E increases delivery and absorption of oxygen into brain tissue, which is essential for optimal function and metabolic activity.
According to a study, regular EVOO consumption can protect the brain against decline. In addition, it also helps improve cognitive function.5
Be aware of a serious problem, when you try to find the best extra virgin olive oil
Unfortunately, just because they say EVOO on the label, it doesn’t mean it actually is. Most of these oils on the market are cut with cheap vegetable oils. Experts from Consumer Reports tested 23 products and only 9 of them were really EVOO.
The United States International Trade Commission said: “International standards for extra virgin olive oil are mostly unenforced. Although the term ‘extra virgin’ is generally understood to denote the highest quality of olive oil, industry representatives report that the current standards are easily met by producers and allow olive oil marketed as ‘extra virgin’ to represent a wide range of qualities. This lack of enforcement has resulted in a long history of fraudulent practices (adulteration and mislabelling) in the olive oil sector.”
Also by adding a few drops of chlorophyll and beta-carotene to a seed oil, they can easily make it look and smell like an EVOO.
If you want to boost your mental performance, and enjoy all of the other health benefits of EVOO, you should definitely pay attention to this.
So how should I select a real EVOO?
First of all, let’s describe the exact requirements of an olive oil that can be qualified as extra virgin:
- The olives must be milled within 24 hours of their harvest
- The extraction must be done by mechanical means, not from heat or chemicals
- They must not be treated chemically
- The acidity level must not exceed 0.8%
Now let’s discuss how you can recognize a real EVOO product. Firstly, it might be surprising, but color has no bearing on the quality of the oil. The most effective way to evaluate an oil is to simply taste it. In case it tastes greasy, it’s not a right choice. However, if it’s grassy than it is a good indicator of a high quality EVOO. Since oleocanthal causes the peppery taste of virgin oil, we can use it to measure how much oleocanthal is present in the oil. Quality oils are often very spicy and it can cause coughing because of the heat. Next time if it happens, think about the positive effects on your brain.6
Other useful tips:
- Check the harvesting date
- Look for a seal from the International Olive Oil Council (IOC)
- Avoid light or blend oils, because these aren’t extra virgin qualities
The best olive oils that have passed the extra virgin standards
The following list will provide you with a couple of examples of real EVOO brands. With these products you can enjoy the full nutritional benefits of extra virgin olive oil.
- California Olive Ranch: Applied Sensory seal elected, which certifies extra virgin olive oil from all countries.
- Pompeian Robust Extra Virgin Olive Oil: NAOOA Certified.
- Cobram Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil 100% California Select: World’s Healthiest EVOO (Health & Food EVOO Awards).
How to use it
You should always store the oil in a cool dry place. As far as the bottle is concerned, preferably it should be made of dark glass, so that it protects it from the light.
You can use it on salads, eggs and as a sauce. Juts make sure extra virgin olive oil is the main oil in your diet, and your brain will thank you for it.