The exotic names of olives—Moroccan, Kalamata, nicoise, picholine and Manzanilla—sound almost as good as these varieties of olives taste. But taste is only one of the reasons to enjoy them. Olives and olive oil have long been considered part of a heart-healthy or weight loss diet, but a new research shows that these foods may help protect the brain against brain diseases.
Olives are an excellent source of healthy monounsaturated fats and vitamin E. Monounsaturated fats have a beneficial role to play in maintaining the outer membranes of brain cells, protecting your body’s genetic material and the energy-producing cellular components (mitochondria) that help fuel your brain.
Vitamin E offers antioxidant protection to the fatty components of your brain and can lower your risk of damage and inflammation. This vitamin is also your body’s primary fat-soluble antioxidant, meaning that it neutralises damaging free radicals in all the fat-rich areas of your body, including your brain and the protective coating of your nerves.
Your brain is more than 60 per cent fat, making vitamin E a significant contributor to brain health. Like other types of monounsaturated fats, vitamin E also helps protect the energy production centers in your cells to ensure that your cells are capable of creating adequate energy for your many bodily processes and brain functions.
Olives and olive oil also help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. Oxidised cholesterol has been linked to stroke. These anti-inflammatory actions of monounsaturated fats, vitamin E and beneficial plant chemicals called polyphenols help lessen the likelihood of inflammation in your brain. Olive oil is also rich in Omega-9 fatty acids that are important for your brain.
And, a recent study published in the Journal of Molecular Biology even suggests that oleic acid found in olives and olive oil may help to prevent or halt brain cancer.
The study was preliminary so more research needs to be done before we can definitively say that olives and olive oil can help with brain cancer.