New research suggests that oleocanthal found in olive oil may possess the ability to help the body rid itself of amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer’s Disease (the brain-degenerative disease). Amyloid plaques are thought to build up over time and cause irrevocable damage. A research team from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, led by Amal Kaddoumi, gave groups of mice oleocanthal from olive oil and found a consistent pattern of producing two proteins and key enzymes that are believed to be critical in the removal amyloid plaques, thereby preventing Alzheimer’s from occurring in the first place.
The team stated: “We provide in vitro and in vivo evidence for the potential of oleocanthal to enhance beta-amyloid clearance from the brain via up-regulation of P-glycoprotein (P-gp) and LDL lipoprotein receptor related protein-1 (LRP1), major beta-amyloid transport proteins, at the blood-brain barrier.”
While traditionally noted for its high concentration of healthful monounsaturated fats, this research suggests that oleocanthal may be the actual protective agent. Researchers noted the results with certainty: “Our results demonstrated significant increase in beta-amyloid degradation as a result of the up-regulation of AB degrading enzymes following oleocanthal treatment,” they said.
Abuznait, et al. (2013). Olive-Oil Derived Oleocanthal Enhances B-Amyloid Clearance as a Potential Neuroprotective Mechanism Against Alzheimer’s Disease. Chemical Neuroscience.
Grass-fed beef and other animal foods. As opposed to traditional, grain-fed livestock, meat that comes from animals fed grass also contains anti-inflammatory omega-3s, but in lower concentrations than coldwater fish. Free-range livestock that graze in pastures build up higher levels of omega-3s. Meat from grain-fed animals has virtually no omega-3s and plenty of saturated fat. Cooking tip: Unless it’s ground, grass-fed beef may be tougher, so slow cook it.
Olive oil. Olive oil is a great source of oleic acid, another anti-inflammatory oil. Researchers wrote in the October 2007 Journal of the American College of Nutrition that those who consume more oleic acid have better insulin function and lower blood sugar. Shopping tip: Opt for extra-virgin olive oil, which is the least processed, and use it instead of other cooking oils.
Spread Olive Oil on dark-green lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, and other salad veggies. These are rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants, nutrients that dampen inflammation.
Cruciferous vegetables. These veggies, which include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale, are also loaded with antioxidants. But they provide one other ingredient — sulfur — that the body needs to make its own high-powered antioxidants, such as one called glutathione.
Turmeric. This spice contains a powerful, natural anti-inflammatory compound, according to a report in the August 2007 Biochemical Pharmacology. Turmeric has long been part of curry spice blends, used in southern Asian cuisines. To use: Buy powdered curry spice (which contains turmeric and other spices) and use it as a seasoning when pan-frying chicken breasts in olive oil.
This relative of tumeric is also known for its anti-inflammatory benefits, and some research suggests that it might also help control blood sugar. Suggestion: Brew your own ginger tea. Use a peeler to remove the skin off a piece of ginger, then add several thin slices to a cup of hot water and let steep for a few minutes.
Garlic. The research isn’t consistent, but garlic may have some anti-inflammatory and glucose-regulating benefits and it may also help your body fight infections. At the very least, it won’t hurt and makes for a tasty addition to food. Kitchen tip: Dice garlic and fresh rosemary, and rub them on a whole chicken before roasting.
Green tea. Like fruits and vegetables, green tea contains natural anti-inflammatory compounds. It may even reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Suggestion: Drink a cup a day — or brew it like sun tea, refrigerate, and serve.
Here is a simple plan for eating healthy fats:
Eliminate bad fats from your diet, including vegetable and seed oils and hydrogenated oils.
DO consume plenty of good fats, including avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, fish oil, nuts (walnuts, macademia nuts are good), eggs, wild salmon, sardines and naturally-raised meats.
Avoid processed carbohydrates, grains and sugars.
DO consume a wide variety of herbs, leafy greens, and vegetables every day, and a moderate amount of fruit (usually only 1-2 pieces per day).
Engage in resistance exercise to build strength and muscle, and interval training to quickly shed fat.
Eat unprocessed, natural foods.
Supplement with Omega 3 fish oils (EPA-DHA 720 by Metagenics)