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EVOO Is Good for Your Brain

Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) may improve brain health and decrease your risk of cognitive decline, according to Forbes

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As one of the main components of the Mediterranean diet, EVOO has already earned an impressive health reputation for boosting brain and heart health, improving the elasticity of blood vessels and decreasing your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and age-related memory decline, according to the report.

People everywhere are suddenly using plenty of EVOO and the popularity of the Mediterranean diet has made olive oil a $16 billion-a-year industry. The problem is that this surge in EVOO use and sales has also led to massive fraud and corruption.

"Extra-virgin" olive oil is often diluted with other less expensive oils, including hazelnut, soybean, corn, sunflower, palm, sesame, grape seed and/or walnut. Adding insult to injury, these added oils are not listed on the labels.

So, how do you know if you are buying pure EVOO or a fake?

One way to be sure you are purchasing high-quality olive oil is to buy it from specialty retailers that allow you to taste it first. Taste and smell are important factors in determining authenticity.

When it comes to olive oil, tests reveal anywhere from 60% to 90% of the olive oils sold in American grocery stores and restaurants are adulterated with cheap, oxidized, omega-6 vegetable oils, such as sunflower oil or peanut oil, or nonhuman grade olive oils, which are harmful to health in a number of ways.

Ways to determine which cooking oils are best include how the oils behave when they’re heated, as well as potentially harmful compounds produced. Studies show that fumes emitted from some cooking oils can potentially be carcinogenic.

Olive oil should only be used cold and not for cooking. Extra-virgin olive oil's chemical structure and its large amount of unsaturated fats make it very susceptible to oxidative damage when used for cooking. A better option for cooking is to use coconut oil or grass fed butter. 

Olive oil is pressed from fresh olives and is made mainly in the Mediterranean, mostly in Italy, Spain and Greece, and is available year-round. The flavor, smell and color of olive oil can vary significantly, based on its origin and whether it is extra-virgin (finest grade) or not.

Commonly sold varieties of olive oil include:

• Extra-virgin olive oil — The highest-quality olive oil you can get. It is unrefined and contains more nutrients compared to other processed varieties.

• Pure or “refined” olive oil — Made by combining extra-virgin olive oil and refined olive oil, resulting in a lower-quality product.

• Light olive oil — The word "light" is a marketing term that simply refers to the oil's lighter flavor. It is refined olive oil that has a neutral taste and a higher smoke point.

• Olive-pomace oil — This version of olive oil is made from leftover olive pulps, and the remaining liquid is extracted using chemical solvents. Avoid this type of olive oil.

Olive oil can be flavored with herbs and spices, which you can steep in the oil for 10 days or so.

It can also be used to moisturize your skin, remove eye makeup or paint from hair and as a safe, natural lubricant for a close shave and as a soothing aftershave.

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