People have long known of the heart healthy fats found in olive oil, but a new study published in the journal of Neurology says that there is a link between olive oil consumption and a lower risk of strokes in people over 65.
Of the 7,625 French participants, in different cities, researchers found that those who used it in both cooking and eating with bread, compared to those who never used it or only used it for cooking or dipping in bread, had a 41% lower risk than the two other groups. This was statistically significant for strokes caused by artery blockage, but not for those caused by a blood vessel rupture.
Olive oil is also an antioxidant and helps to lower your LDL, or bad, cholesterol levels. It also has properties similar to those of ibuprofen and may help to prevent cancer.
No matter what your age is, you should start adding some extra virgin olive oil to your cooking in order to reap its many benefits. Two tablespoons is a healthy way to start, though in some countries people consume one-third of a cup or more daily. Start using it to replace your regular oil, not in addition to it, and using it as a dressing on salads.
Here’s a simple meal plan to help you get started.
Breakfast: Healthy Fried Eggs
1/4 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped bell peppers
1 T. olive oil
Beat eggs and stir in vegetables. Heat oil in skillet and fry eggs.
Lunch: Tomato and Cucumber Salad
2 cups chopped tomatoes
2 cups chopped cucumbers
3 T. olive oil
1 T. Italian seasoning
1 t. garlic powder, optional
Place all ingredients in a bowl and toss together. Refrigerate until serving.
Pita Sandwich: Fill half a pita pocket with your favorite meat, cheeses and veggies. Drizzle with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Snack: Black Bean Dip with Fresh Veggies
2 cups black beans, rinsed
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup cilantro
2 T. olive oil
1 T. lime juice
1/2 t. salt
Place all ingredients in blender and turn on high for 2 minutes or until thoroughly blended. Eat with your favorite fresh vegetables.
Dinner: Spaghetti (use olive oil if you make your own sauce)
Toasted Garlic and Tomato Bread
4 slices of Italian bread
2-3 sliced Roma tomatoes
1 t. garlic powder
2 T. olive oil
Mix together oil and garlic powder. Lightly toast bread and then top with tomatoes. Drizzle with oil mixture and broil for 2-3 minutes or until tomatoes soften and bread darkens slightly.