I love to report on how food can be used as a preventative force in our health and well-being! After attending my favorite annual conference Food As Medicine Professional Nutritional Training Program sponsored by The Center for Mind-Body Medicine I am thrilled to have many food and medical studies to share with you. The Journal of Neurology recently published an observational study finding that cooking and eating olive oil may reduce the incidence of stroke in older adults. Stroke happens in the brain when blood flow is interrupted to a single or multiple parts of the brain, causing the cells to begin to die. The blood flow can be interrupted because the blood vessels are occluded or break open. There are several lifestyle issues that can reduce the risk of stroke including smoking, nutrition, controlling high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
In this observational study, over 7.000 older French adults were followed for five years; those who used olive oil as part of their diet were 41 percent less likely to have a stroke than people who didn’t use olive oil. Observational studies can show a relationship between olive oil and reduction of stroke but this study did not show that olive oil produces less strokes in people. The findings from the study also refers to olive oil as an agent that reduces the risk of heart disease and the protection of heart disease could be the same protection as from strokes. The lifestyle recommendation from this study is to use olive oil as a replacement for trans fatty acids and saturated fats.
I love using olive oil in my cooking and food preparation. I have been recommending it for patients as well. It is always wonderful to find out that a food that is protective for your heart has the great potential to be protective of your brain too. One note about cooking with olive oil: it is best used for low cooking and sautéing. If you use olive oil for high temperature cooking it can act like a free radical and damage your cells just like other oils. What that means is don’t fry your foods in any oil, including olive oil.