Olive oil continues to show preventive properties for stroke and Alzheimer’s
You’ve read it on these pages before – the Mediterranean diet is one way of potentially preventing Alzheimer’s and heart disease. In an article on ouralzheimers.com, olive oil, which is a staple of the healthy Mediterranean diet, is reported to be the fat of choice for good health. Of course, there’s more to the Mediterranean diet than olive oil. Fish, fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains are part of the mix. But olive oil is a vital part of the preparation for nearly any Mediterranean meal.
An article about olive oil preventing stroke, published on Medscape.com, reports on a study that measured the differences in health, particularly stroke, in olive oil users as opposed to non-users.
The researchers found that, “ moderate and intensive olive oil users (relative to nonusers)…had lower values or frequencies for several stroke risk factors, weighed less, had lower triglycerides and lower total/high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio. They were also more apt to be regular exercisers and ate fish, fruits, and vegetables and omega-3–rich oils more often than nonusers.”
What’s good for the heart is good for the brain – and the rest of the body
The same group of researchers recognized that olive oil has, “potentially beneficial associations for Alzheimer's disease, mild cognitive impairment, cognitive decline, essential tremor, Parkinson disease, and stroke."
Of course, these researchers are scientists. Therefore, they state repeatedly that there is more proof needed; that it’s very hard to take into consideration all variables in a study such as this, and that more time is needed for proof.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve watched countless television programs where doctors talk about diet and I don’t believe I’ve ever heard one doctor say that olive oil is a negative fat, or that the Mediterranean diet is bad for us (vegan doctors wouldn’t like the fish aspect). It’s the same in articles on nutrition. Olive oil is promoted as an exceptionally healthful fat.
Many cultures are healthy until they switch to current Western diet
One good article on how the current Western diet affects people from cultures where people were free from many diseases, such as diabetes and stroke, is on livestrong.com. The article states that, “…when people in other cultures start eating more like Westerners, there tends to be an increase in these "diseases of affluence".
This isn’t new information, but it’s very difficult for most of us to change the way we eat. Also, since many of us have been around long enough to have been told margarine was good, then hear it was proven bad, that eggs may as well be poison, an opinion now shown to be false by most research on eggs, and that carbohydrates are bad/good – well, we can easily become skeptical of diet and health “revelations,” wondering when scientists will again change their recommendations.
I’ve made it my personal motto to say “moderation in at least most things” – not that I always, or even mostly, succeed. Some people may say that I’m lazy, or stubborn about my diet, or that I need to do more research. All could be true. But I do feel that there’s enough evidence piling up to show us that olive oil should replace many of the fats we use, that I need to hop on this bandwagon with this.
Doctors are told to “first do no harm.” For most of us, changing our Western diet to better reflect a Mediterranean diet, with concentration on olive oil for fats, will do no harm. This step, even if it’s just a partial movement toward healthy eating, would for most of us prove to be positive.
Anyone with specific health issues should talk with their doctor, and likely a licensed nutritionist, as well. However, how can we go wrong by trying to prevent stroke, Alzheimer’s and other diseases by eating foods shown by repeated studies to improve health? Let’s make an effort to do what we can and still watch for more research. I, for one, don’t want to wait until the theory of olive oil is proven without doubt. My health is too important to me for that.