Health benefits of extra virgin olive oil

New studies show adding olive oil to your diet everyday isn't just good for your heart, it can also help you live longer. A registered dietician with Cleveland Clinic, Doctor Kristen Kirkpatrick, recommends adding about one-to-three tablespoons each day for the biggest benefit.

Sept. 30 was National Extra Virgin Olive Oil Day and according to Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, registered dietitian with Cleveland Clinic, you may want to add a little more into your diet.

“With modern medicine many people are outliving their brains. So we want people to live longer, but we want them to be able to live longer and have their capacity of their brain and not go into that cognitive decline,” she explained. “There’s many factors that go into brain health. Olive oil is one factor, but it tends to be in all the studies that we are seeing that are relative to increased brain health.”

Extra virgin olive oil is a critical component of the Mediterranean diet, which studies show is heart-healthy and may increase longevity. Regular intake of extra virgin olive oil also appears to improve chronic inflammation and possibly plays a role in the death of cancer cells. Kirkpatrick recommends about 1 to 3 tablespoons per day.

Some ideas include spritzing it on toast for breakfast or drizzling it over salad. However you consume it, extra virgin olive oil may do your body good.

“It’s actually very similar to looking at, let’s say, a blueberry or looking at broccoli, anything that has abundant color, anything that’s a plant is going to help with cancer prevention and olive oil tends to have a very high capacity of anti-oxidants,” she said.

When choosing an extra virgin olive oil, look for a dark bottle and keep it tightly sealed once opened, as light and air can affect taste and quality. Always go with “extra virgin” and remember the fresher the oil, the better.