Almighty Olives: These Small Fruits Pack Big Health Benefits



Looking for a simple (and delicious) way to keep your mind sharp? Offer your diet the olive branch! In addition to olives’ distinct flavors, these petite fruits offer impressive health perks.

The May/June 2009 issue of Psychology Today reports that the antioxidant hydroxytyrosol, abundant in olives, slows cell death in the brain and can thus reduce the incidence of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. 

More olive insight from Psychology Today:

  • Olives’ skin is rich in maslinic acid, a natural compound that destroys colon cancer cells in humans.

  • Choose extra virgin olive oil rather than virgin or “pure” varieties. Only extra virgin olive oil fully retains the olives’ healthful qualities. A rule of thumb: The greener the oil, the richer it is in polyphenols — antioxidants (including hydroxytyrosol) that research has shown to have a host of beneficial qualities, namely preventing degenerative diseases and cancer. (Read Tested, Tasted and Terrific Olive Oils for our top olive oil picks.)

Pastas, pizzas and plenty of other Mediterranean pleasures often come packed with olives, but there are numerous other, easier ways to get more olives on your plate. Here’s a variety of recipes from Epicurious that are packed with olive goodness:

For more on keeping your brain in top form, read Aging and Brain Health: What Have You Been Learning Lately?.

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