On the Greek island of Ikaria, a bigger percentage of the residents live past 90 than anywhere else in the world.
Many live well past 100.
That’s why it’s known as the “Island where people forget to die.”
The old folks on Ikaria aren’t frail and feeble. If you visit the island, you’ll see centenarians riding bikes, hiking, and bragging about their love lives.
What’s their secret?
Researchers point to the Ikarians’ Mediterranean diet. And a new study shows that one component of it—olive oil—may be particularly good at keeping the brain from aging.
The research was published in the journal Aging Cell. Scientists looked at mice with abnormal tau protein deposits in their brains.
In humans, abnormal tau buildup is present in many people with dementia.
The researchers gave half the animals olive oil daily.
Six months later, the mice that consumed olive oil had a 60% reduction in tau deposits compared to those that didn’t consume any.
The research confirms previous studies that have found extra virgin olive oil defends against Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Best Olive Oils for Good Health
The scientists used extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) in their study.
This is the cleanest, most nutrient-rich oil. It’s full of polyphenols, which act as antioxidants, reducing the oxidative stress throughout your body. Try to eat some of it every day.
EVOO can be expensive. You can pay over $600 for a quart of artisanal oil. But you don’t need to shell out big bucks to get olive oil’s brain benefits. You simply need to know what to look for.
Here are six simple ways to maximize olive oil’s power to keep you healthy:
- Look for these letters. DOP, DO, DOC, and PDO on the label of imported oils are universally trusted European certificates of quality and origin. If your oil is from California, make sure it has a COOC seal (California Olive Oil Council) and a USDA organic certification.
Some unscrupulous companies cut their olive oil with cheaper, less healthy oils—like soybean or sunflower oils. These letters help ensure that you’re not buying counterfeit oil.
- Buy organic, extra virgin. Organic extra virgin oil is made from the first pressing of organically grown olives. There are no chemicals or heat used that can degrade the oil’s nutrients. No further processing occurs after the pressing.
Extra virgin oil contains no more than 0.8% acidity. This is a key metric for determining nutrient quality.
- Make sure it’s in the right container. Buy olive oil in a dark glass bottle or a steel container. Avoid clear and plastic bottles.
Clear bottles expose oil to light. Light leads to oxidation and rancidity. Plastic containers can leach noxious substances, such as PVCs, into the oil.
- Keep it cool, but not too cool. Extra virgin olive oil is best stored at cool room temperature, about 70 degrees F. Keep your oil in a dark cupboard away from stove heat. Don’t put it in the refrigerator. It will solidify, making it hard to pour. And refrigeration can give extra virgin olive oil an off taste.
- Check the date. Olive oil does not improve with age. Nutrients and flavor degrade over time. Look for a sell-by date on the container. Oil older than a year has lost more than 40% of its nutritional potency.
- Don’t overheat. If you are cooking with olive oil, never let it smoke. If you do, you’ve ruined its antioxidant power. Olive oil’s smoking point is about 400 degrees F.
Follow the example of the Ikarians. Make extra virgin olive oil a staple in your diet.
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