Olive Oil Recipes to Lower the Risk of Dementia

Olive Oil Recipes to Lower the Risk of Dementia

You’ve likely already heard about the merits of olive oil. After all, it’s a staple of the Mediterranean Diet, which numerous studies have found to be incredibly good for you. Scientists can identify the reasons why it matters for overall senior health, including what it can do for your heart and brain. A new study presented by the American Society for Nutrition reports that a single spoonful of olive oil every day can reduce one’s risk of dying from dementia by 28%.1

Olive Oil and Cognitive Health

The study was based on research participants in the Nurses’ Health Study on women and the Health Professionals’ Follow-Up Study that ran from 1990 to 2018. Nearly 60,600 women and 32,000 men were part of the research that looked into risk factors for chronic diseases. The new research assessed the eating habits of the participants every four years through a questionnaire.

The diet quality was then assessed by using the Alternative Healthy Eating Index. The index assigns ratings to foods and nutrients based on their ability to fight disease. The higher the score, the lower the odds of developing chronic conditions.2

The research followed the participants for 28 years. Regardless of the overall quality of their diets, those who consumed more than half a tablespoon of olive oil each day had a 28% lower risk of dying from dementia compared to those who rarely or never consumed olive oil. And in fact, replacing just a teaspoon of mayonnaise or margarine with olive oil reduced the risk by 8% to 14%.

Scientists believe the lowered risk could be thanks to the antioxidant compounds in olive oil that can cross the blood-brain barrier. There might also be an indirect benefit from the olive oil affecting cardiovascular health, which in turn affects cognitive function. Since about half of all dementia cases are caused by vascular disease, it makes sense that improved cardiovascular function leads to better brain health.

Important Facts About Olive Oil

Understanding the basics of olive oil will help you get the most out of this wondrous ingredient. Remember these facts and tips from the North American Olive Oil Association:3

·        Olive oil doesn’t last forever. Look at the bottling date; it should be used within two years of that date. Once you open the bottle, use it within a few months.

·        Keep the oil in a cool, dark place. In fact, look for an olive oil in a dark bottle, as the lack of light entering the bottle will help preserve the flavor.

·        The color of olive oil doesn’t actually mean much. It can range from pale yellow to dark green. Olive oil of any color is great to use in the kitchen!

·        Studies have found that olive oil can actually make your vegetables healthier. This is because the antioxidants and phenols in the oil are transferred to the veggies as you sauté them, thus increasing their nutritional content.

Start getting healthier right now by reaching for the olive oil when you sauté those vegetables for your next meal. Remember to always be careful in the kitchen, wear a medical alert system with fall detection for protection, and ask your doctor for more ways to prevent dementia through healthier lifestyle choices.


Recipes to Get More Olive Oil into Your Diet

The benefits of olive oil are clear. So how can you get more of it in your diet? Here are a few great recipes for seniors to help you do just that.

Roasted Peppers Caprese

Olive oil, fresh peppers, and mozzarella – this is a classic trio enjoyed the world over. Don’t forget to save all the delicious goodness in the bottom of the roasting pan, as it makes almost everything taste so much better.

·        3 pounds bell peppers of various colors

·        1 hot pepper (if you like)

·        6 garlic cloves, crushed

·        1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

·        Salt and pepper to taste

·        12 oz. fresh mozzarella

·        Fresh basil leaves

·        2 tbsps. Balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Seed the peppers and cut into bite-size bits. Toss the peppers, hot pepper (if using), garlic, and oil in a heavy roasting pan. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cover the pan and roast in the oven for about two hours or until the pepper are very tender, stirring occasionally. Let the peppers cool.

Arrange half the peppers on a large platter in a pleasing pattern. Top the peppers with slices of mozzarella and basil leaves.

Measure out about 4 tablespoons of the juices left in the pan and transfer them to a small bowl. Blend well with the vinegar and immediately drizzle the mixture over the platter. Serve right away.

(Note: Reserve the remaining peppers and the oil for another use. You could pulse them to a puree in the blender and use them as sandwich condiments or dressing for salads.)

Basic Vinaigrette

Speaking of salads, this is a go-to recipe that will dress up any sort of greens. Choose the vinegar that suits the flavor of your salad and go with a light olive oil to let the vinegar shine. This recipe will yield about ¾ cup of dressing.

·        ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

·        3 tbsps. vinegar of your choice

·        1 tbsp. ground mustard

·        1 tbsp. honey or maple syrup

·        3 pressed or minced garlic cloves

·        Sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a small cup or bowl that has plenty of room for whisking the mixture. You will want the ingredients to complete incorporate into each other. Taste the mixture and balance it out by playing with the amounts; for instance, you might need an extra bit of salt or an extra dash of vinegar.

Serve it immediately over salads or refrigerate for up to 10 days.

(Note: if your dressing solidifies in the fridge, no worries! That’s normal. Let it rest at room temperature for 10 minutes and then whisk vigorously to incorporate all the ingredients again.)

Baba Ganoush

This is a special treat that is also deceptively easy to make. Serve this with toasted pita wedges, carrot sticks, cucumber slices, crisp crackers, or even small bits of bread for dipping.

·        2 medium eggplants

·        2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

·        2 tbsps. lemon juice

·        ½ cup tahini

·        ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing and drizzling

·        2 tbsps. chopped fresh parsley

·        ¼ tsp. salt or to taste

·        ¼ tsp. ground cumin

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and place a rack up in the upper third. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Halve the eggplants lengthwise. Brush all sides lightly with olive oil. Place the eggplants, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes or until the eggplant is very tender. Set the eggplant aside to cool for a few minutes.

Scoop out the eggplant flesh and discard the skins. Place the eggplant in a mesh strainer set over a mixing bowl. Let the eggplant sit for several minutes to release its moisture, shaking the strainer from time to time.

Discard all of the drippings, wipe out the bowl, and put the eggplant in it. Add the garlic and lemon juice. Stir very well until the eggplant breaks down – a fork is best for this step.

Add the tahini to the bowl and stir well. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you stir. Continue to stir until the mixture becomes pale and creamy. Stir in the parsley, salt, and cumin.

Taste the dish and balance the flavors by adding spices as necessary. Transfer the baba banoush to a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil to your liking, and sprinkle with more parsley. Serve right away or let it sit in the fridge for a day or two and allow the flavors to meld.

Lemony Couscous

If you can’t find pearl couscous, don’t fret – you can use regular couscous for this recipe if you must. If you are going to serve the dish cold, wait until the last moment to add the tomatoes and walnuts, as this will keep them from getting soggy in the fridge.

·        1 ½ cups dried pearl couscous

·        ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

·        1 tsp. ground mustard

·        1 tsp. honey

·        1 tsp. grated lemon zest

·        2-4 tbsps. fresh lemon juice (according to your taste)

·        Salt and pepper to taste

·        1 medium cucumber, diced into small bits

·        2 firm Roma tomatoes, diced into small bits

·        ½ cup fresh herbs of your choice (basil, dill, or mint are good options)

·        1/3 cup chopped walnuts

·        ¼ cup golden raisins

Cook the couscous in a large pot of salted water until tender, which should take about 10 minutes. Drain the couscous well.

In a large bowl, whisk the oil, mustard, honey, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the drained couscous and mix well. Then stir in the cucumber, tomato, walnuts, herbs, and raisins. Taste the mixture for proper seasoning.

Enjoy it warm or let it cool in the refrigerator for more mature, blended flavor.

Classic Olive Oil Cake

This cake is decadent. There are some versions out there with lower fat and sugar, but this is as true to the original recipe as possible; you can choose to tweak it accordingly. Serve this up with fresh fruit and a touch of whipped cream for something very special.

·        3 large eggs

·        ¾ cup granulated sugar

·        ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

·        ½ cup whole milk

·        1 tsp. vanilla extract

·        ½ tsp. almond extract

·        1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

·        1 ½ tsps. Baking powder

·        ½ tsp. kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray an 8-inch round pan with cooking spray or line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, cream the eggs and sugar together at high speed until they are well-combined. Add the olive oil in a steady stream until fully combined. Add the milk in small bits at a time, beating until well-combined, then lower the speed and beat in the extracts.

In another bowl, use a hand whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, adding in stages and stopping the mixer from time to time to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes or so, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let it cool in the pan for five minutes before turning the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Store it at room temperature wrapped loosely in foil.

A Note About Safety

Remember that working in the kitchen can pose hazards. Whether you are cooking for just yourself or preparing enough to feed a crowd, wearing an in-home or on-the-go personal alarm button can help ensure that you stay safe no matter what you are making in the kitchen. Alert1 wishes all seniors the very best in health and safety.