3 Ways To Boost Health Effects Of Olive Oil (That Don't Involve Cooking)

mindbodygreen Editorial Assistant By Sarah Regan
mindbodygreen Editorial Assistant

Sarah Regan is a writer, registered yoga instructor, and Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Olive Oil

A new study may have just identified why olive oil makes the Mediterranean diet so effective for longevity.

The diet continues making headlines as the healthiest overall diet, proven to improve gut health, decrease inflammation, and more. And it's receiving more attention in the scientific community, too, with one team of researchers from the University of Minnesota looking at olive oil in particular.

They've been studying olive oil for nearly a decade, and their findings not only point to how olive oil functions in the body but three ways to boost its effects.

Understanding olive oil.

So, what is it that makes the Mediterranean diet so healthy? Some have pointed to resveratrol, found in red wine, which lights up pathways in cells that increase longevity and fight age-related disease. But this new research suggests it's actually the fat in olive oil that may be lighting up these pathways.

Doug Mashek, Ph.D., professor and lead researcher explains, "We found that the way this fat works is it first has to get stored in microscopic things called lipid droplets, which is how our cells store fat."

Interestingly enough, though, Mashek goes on to say that it's not enough to just consume olive oil if you want to get those healthy aging effects.

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3 ways to maximize the benefits.

According to Mashek, olive oil won't necessarily activate those cellular pathways without the right conditions. Once the fat has been stored, it has to be released. Their research suggests three ways to boost the effects of olive oil are fasting, limiting caloric intake, and exercising.

"When the fat is broken down during exercising or fasting, for example, is when the signaling and beneficial effects are realized," Mashek notes.

Intermittent fasting is known to boost longevity too, so coupling a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil with an IF schedule may be a good way to get the best of both. And as far as exercising, HIIT is often recognized for its fat-burning ability, and conveniently, workouts can often be done quickly—like this 12-minute HIIT routine.

"Treating" aging.

Moving forward, the team hopes their research will help discover new treatments or dietary regimens to boost health, especially as we age.

"These are all aging-related diseases, so let's treat aging," Mashek adds, touching on a trending topic in the world of well-being. David Sinclair, Ph.D., who recently sat down on the mbg podcast, also expressed the idea that aging could be a treatable disease. (One of his recommendations was fasting, as well.)

But until the day aging is a thing of the past, we're happy to incorporate more olive oil in our diets and pair it with a good dose of movement—just make sure you're choosing the best kind.

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