Ever since I was a young girl of about three or four, I have enjoyed the simmering scent of olive oil in my mother’s kitchen as she sautéed and prepared nearly every dish with this savory liquid magic.
From exotic pastas to farmed fish fried on a large iron forever sealed, olive oil was the official uncrowned queen of our family, as we sprinkled and doused every dish with it, and with utter abandon.
Growing up in a culturally exotic family with tastes as exquisite as our various ethnic varietal seasons, as children, we never knew what tasty treat awaited us at the dinner table. My father’s side of the family is Russian-Jewish and Irish, so we often enjoyed hearty stews of potatoes, onions and fresh meats infused together with the hearty and yet subtle flavors of olive oil, garlic and Kosher salt.
My mother’s side is Japanese and Hawaiian, and she brought mild-mannered and elegant dishes that soothed our souls and balanced our every sense of aloha spirit, home-spun rhythms and warmed delicacies flavored with the seams of olive oil, table salt and vegetables that were clean, subtle and pleasant to the heart’s center.
Today, I share the many gifts of olive oil with my own three daughters, who feast, dine and explore its many endless bounties, which includes a healthier, longer life, as well as a beautiful and youthful glow.
I began to discover the anti-aging properties of olive oil sometime in my mid 30s, when I noticed a big difference in my skin and overall health after not indulging it for a few months. This was a dark period of my life filled with sorrow and pain, when my infant daughter underwent open heart surgery at only six months old and was close to passing away.
Sitting watch by her in the intensive care unit, I meditated and prayed that if she only pulled through, I would forever owe the heavens a life of servitude, kindness and humble spirit.
Like many mothers who witness the scalding arrows of a child’s pain, I forgot my own self and any sense of belonging to my center. I literally nursed her back to health while I forgot my own and stopped cooking at all, least of which included olive oil, my staple that dated back to my own winsome childhood.
I noticed a dramatic difference in my skin, my mood, my sleep patterns, and even in the way that I moved. Even after my blue-eyed curly haired daughter had recovered, and when life seemed to be back to whatever “normal” was, I seemed to be in a terrible physical and emotional slump.
What was the difference? Olive oil had been missing from my diet for nearly a year.
But after using again it again daily for about six months, I began to see that rosy cheeked youthful glow again, my feelings of bliss and happiness returned, and I felt alive and healthy.
It was about this time that many of my friends, colleagues and even complete strangers began to enquire what my “anti-aging secrets” were. I began to study my own lifestyle habits so that I may give a helpful answer, as well as continue most whatever secret might actually be working for me.
And even though healthy habits such as staying out of the sun, a fortunate genetic disposition, daily moisturizing and being religious about getting seven hours of sleep were indeed positive ones, I believe that the various uses of olive oiI have regimented has really been my so-called secret.
The reason I call it a secret is that I am now asked “what my secret is” on a daily basis ever since I was featured in People Magazine for their annual 2012 “Most Beautiful Issue” with my photograph appearing in the section: “Real Beauty At Every Age.”
Suddenly, I was the subject of questions from other writers and reporters as to my anti-aging secrets were, as woman in her 40’s, and with no plastic surgery.
Using olive oil in my cooking and in most of my preparation of meals, as well as in bathing and skincare has changed my life and made me a healthier person on the inside and out. Yes, it is the one constant that I partake in daily, rain or shine, and in sickness and in health.
Furthermore, in recent years, the medical community has completed significant and well documented research that shows its nearly flawless benefits and seemingly endless uses for health and wellness.
Here are the Best Five Reasons & Ways to Use Olive Oil to Look Younger & Feel Better
1. A Youthful Glow and Younger Skin
Using olive oil in my cooking helps to keep my skin on both my face and body keep a youthful and supple glow as it is a proven antioxidant and is rich in mono-saturated fatty acids, a major staple of the Mediterranean diet.
But I have also discovered that using it as a moisturizer directly on my skin has prevented any wrinkles form forming in the first place, as well as made my skin unbelievably soft. While it may seem much more oily and softer than your regular moisturizer, that is the point—just use it more sparingly because just a little will do.
Tip: Simply apply your favorite brand of olive oil to your face and body as you would any regular moisturizer. You can also pour some in a warm bath mixed with some lavender or citrus to make your skin both soft and smelling oh-so-sweet.
2. Help With Depression
As I mentioned previously, olive oil has helped me greatly with my overall mood and even with my periods of mild depression and mood swings. And of course if you feel better, you will look better. This is not to say that it is an anti-depressant, but simply that if you use it daily, it is likely to help you to feel better.
According to study by the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain, olive oil appears to have a protective effect regarding depression risk. Dr. Almudena Sánchez-Villegas and colleagues added that their findings stood even after taking into account people’s overall diet, physical activity and lifestyle.
Tip: If you don’t have time to cook a meal, simply pour a little olive oil in a bowl or a plate and dip vegetables, bread or simply a spoon into the delicious stuff. Your mouth will water and you may even find yourself smiling.
3. Help with Your Energy
When you feel more energized, you are likely to feel happier, healthier and even look more attractive and alive. Medical research now shows that people who regularly add olive oil to their diet are much less likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Olive Oil also helps to reduce inflammation, one of the greatest culprits for possible heart disease and most cancers.
Tip: It’s never too late to add Olive Oil to your meal. Even after cooking a dish of chicken, meat, fish or any vegetable dish, simply sprinkle olive oil right out of the bottle over your feast and you will still get the benefits.
4. Helps Your Brain
What is the use of looking great if you do not have a healthy, working brain? Recent studies now show that the regular addition of Virgin olive oil to your diet may protect against the dreaded disease of Alzheimer’s. Researchers in the journal ‘Chemical Neuroscience’ explains that Alzheimer’s disease rates are lower in Mediterranean countries, where consumption of olive oil is higher than anywhere else in the world.
Tip: Why not invite your friends over to dine over a salad tossed with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette, while also pondering your deepest and happiest memories of childhood, to boost both your brain and your mood?
5. Helps Your Love Life
If you feel healthy, you’re going to feel better and hopefully even wish to make love. Remember that indulgence? And you can only feel really at your best if you’re taking care of yourself, which according to doctors means a healthy heart and good cholesterol levels.
A Japanese study published in the Medical Science Monitor that LDL-cholesterol mean concentrations were lowered in 28 outpatients who were given olive oil supplements once a day for six weeks. LDL, low density lipoprotein is often referred to as “bad cholesterol”. The “good cholesterol” is called HDL , high density lipoprotein.
Tip: If you feel like you may want to make love, think twice before you slather butter on anything before you eat and dine with olive oil instead. As for myself, I think about romantic evenings when I make my food choices, so that I can have more chances to both feel and look good.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: elephant archives