Researchers at Temple University have found that extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) can protect the brain against Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline. USA Today reported on this study, which found mice who consumed a diet enriched with EVOO demonstrated superior learning abilities and memory compared to their peers who consumed none of the oil.
The researchers found that EVOO protected neuron connections, reduced inflammation and activated the autophagy process. The term autophagy means “self-eating,” and refers to the processes by which your body cleans out debris, including toxins, and recycles damaged cell components. Autophagy plays a key role in your body’s ability to detoxify, repair and regenerate itself.
The health benefits of olive oil and the popularity of the Mediterranean diet have led to a surge on olive oil sales over the past decade. Consumption has increased more than 10-fold over the past 35 years and sales top $16 billion annually. This has resulted in rampant profiteering and a glut of adulterated products on the market. Anywhere from 60 to 90 percent of olive oil sold in American grocery stores has been adulterated with non-human grade olive oil and even cheap, oxidized, omega-6 vegetable oils, such as sunflower oil or peanut oil.