- A new study found that the fat in olive oil appears to activate certain pathways in cells that are linked to longer lifespan.
- Olive oil is a type of fat that is commonly used in the Mediterranean diet, which was ranked the best diet of 2019 by US News & World Report.
- The study's researchers said olive oil fats get stored in the body, then when we exercise they are released, and that's when the benefits begin.
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A new study suggests olive oil could be integral to the Mediterranean diet's brilliance.
The diet, which US News & World Report ranked the best diet of 2019, has been linked to good health and longer lives.
According to new research by the University of Minnesota Medical School, olive oil alone, a staple ingredient of the diet, has properties that promote longevity and decreased the risk of age-related disease like diabetes and heart disease.
Dr. Doug Mashek, the lead researcher, said, after studying how olive oil affected human cells in petri dishes, it appears the fats in olive oil activate cell pathways in the body that are linked to longer lifespan.
"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. And then, when the fat is broken down during exercising or fasting, for example, is when the signaling and beneficial effects are realized," Mashek said in a press release.
The Mediterranean diet is high in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in red meat and sugar
This isn't the first time the Mediterranean diet has been found beneficial for long term health.
The concept of the Mediterranean diet comes from the countries that border the Mediterranean sea, where people historically ate mainly vegetables, oily fish, nuts, and healthy fats. The Harvard School of Public Health and a think tank called Oldways created a diet based on the general eating principles of these places, according to US News.
Unlike highly restrictive diets like the keto diet or the Atkins diet, the Mediterranean diet allows people to eat a wide variety of foods in moderation. In fact, the diet is safe for most people, including children and older people.
Foods including whole-grain pita bread, fresh fruit, salads, nuts, beans, olive oil, and salmon are Mediterranean diet staples and promote a variety of health benefits.
The diet could help with weight loss, heart health, and diabetes prevention
When a person fills their diet with the kinds of fresh, unprocessed foods found in the Mediterranean diet, they may lose weight, improve their heart health, and prevent diabetes, according to US News.
Since the diet focuses on heart-healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, and salmon, it also could lower bad cholesterol, a major cause of heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic. "The Mediterranean diet discourages saturated fats and hydrogenated oils (trans fats), both of which contribute to heart disease," the Mayo Clinic said on its website.
The diet could also help prevent cognitive diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's as well as breast cancer.
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