Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club

The Olive Oil Hunter News #113

Broccoli Cheddar Soup Recipe, Spotlight on Broccoli, Immersion Blender 101, How to Overcome Excuses for Not Exercising and Mastering Functional Fitness

Winter is a time of year when a thick and hearty soup can easily be dinner. Make a large batch, and you’ll have enough for a lunch or two as well. Winter is also when most of us need a little extra motivation to exercise. I’m sharing ideas as well as one aspect of fitness that may be new to you.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

  • Brocoli Cheddar Soup Broccoli Cheddar Soup

    This is a popular item at restaurants and the soup station at supermarkets, yet so often tastes gummy. My recipe is chunky and creamy at the same time, thanks to a simple roux technique and not over-blending.  


    • 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
    • 1 large sweet onion, about 12 ounces, finely chopped
    • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • Coarse salt 
    • 2 pounds broccoli, trimmed and cut into small florets (slice stems into discs)
    • 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
    • 3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
    • 2 cups milk
    • 10 ounces sharp or very sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
    • Freshly ground black pepper to taste


    Step 1

    Heat a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium heat. When hot, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the onions, and garlic. Add a pinch of salt to help the onions sweat. Sauté until soft, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook until it turns a brighter green, about 10 minutes, stirring often. Use a large slotted spoon to transfer all the veggies to a large bowl next to your cooktop.  

    Step 2

    Add the rest of the olive oil to the pot along with the flour and stir vigorously for 2 minutes to make a roux and cook the flour. Whisk in the broth, a half-cup at a time, letting the mixture come to a boil before adding the next half-cup. Repeat the technique with the milk and then stir in 8 ounces of the cheese. When smooth, add back in the vegetables. Continue to cook, partly covered, at a low simmer for 30 minutes or until the broccoli is tender. Stir occasionally to make sure all the broccoli gets submerged.

    Step 3

    Using an immersion blender or working in batches with a standard blender, blend the soup, stopping short of a full purée. Taste and season as desired with salt and pepper. Garnish servings with the rest of the grated cheddar and a drizzle of olive oil.

    Yields 8 to 10 servings

Food Pairings: The Power of Purple Potatoes

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight

Broccoli’s Bounty

Broccoli is on nearly every top 10 list of healthy foods, and science is still uncovering more of its benefits. Beyond its impressive list of vitamins and minerals, broccoli, like other cruciferous vegetables, has a phytochemical—or plant-based compound—called sulforaphane. Since the early 1990s, over 3,000 lab studies and over 50 clinical trials have looked at sulforaphane’s role in cancer prevention and even in cancer treatment. According to a review of research on broccoli and broccoli sprouts published in the journal Molecules, sulforaphane’s anti-inflammatory properties also show promise for easing arthritis and asthma, managing diabetes more effectively, and improving fatty liver disease. 

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight: Sweet spices for savory dishes

Quick Kitchen Nugget

Immersion Blender 101

I love a handheld cordless immersion blender for puréeing foods without having to transfer them to a standing blender or food processor. But not all models have the same power as those countertop workhorses. To make yours more effective, try these tips:

  • Precut any solid foods you’ll be blending into 2″ pieces or smaller.
  • Be sure any cooked foods are tender before blending.
  • The food to be blended should come at least an inch above the blade, and the blade should always be submerged, even when working it up and down. 
  • When using the immersion blender to homogenize small amounts of liquids for salad dressings or sauces, use a tall measuring cup if your appliance didn’t come with a special container.
Healthy Kitchen Nugget: The Truth About Nondairy Milks

For Your Best Health

How to Overcome Excuses for Not Exercising 

As many benefits as exercise has, people find even more excuses for not working out. Here’s some motivation from NIH’s National Institute on Aging:

No time? Get up a few minutes earlier and exercise first thing or combine physical activity with a task that’s already part of your day, like starting to walk to work.

Too boring? The only way to stick with a plan is to do activities you really enjoy. Also, try new types of exercise to keep it interesting.

Too expensive? All you need is a pair of comfortable, nonskid shoes to start walking and, for upper body strength training, your own body weight for moves like pushups or a pair of filled water bottles.

Too tired? That’s another reason to exercise early in the day when you have more energy. Plus, regular, moderate physical activity can help reduce fatigue.

Not convinced? Take a few seconds to read this list of exercise benefits whenever you need a little impetus to get going:

  • A lower risk of chronic conditions, like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cancers
  • Easier weight control
  • Better cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness
  • A lower risk of falling and better bone density
  • A lower risk of depression
  • Improved cognitive function and sleep quality
Healthy Kitchen Nugget: The Value of Variety

Fitness Flash

Mastering Functional Fitness

Your fitness and mobility levels are important signs of independence. They’re often assessed by what’s called functional fitness, the ability to carry out activities of daily living, or ADLs—being able to care for yourself, go shopping, get on and off the sofa with ease, and so on. Building and maintaining functional fitness is key to moving with ease now and staying mobile as you age. 

There are seven important movements we all draw on for those ADLs: pushing, pulling, squatting, lunging, hinging, rotating, and balancing. Doing exercises that use those movements will make it easier to handle all your daily tasks. Many common strength training moves, like pushups and chest presses, pullups and rows, squats, wall sits, and lunges, replicate them exactly. Kettlebell swings and twists mimic hinging. Some core exercises, like the woodchopper and working with a medicine ball, help with rotation. And there are many moves to improve balance, like sidestepping and heel-to-toe walking. If you’re new to any of these exercises or want tailored guidance, consider scheduling a session with a personal trainer.

Get More Recipes In Your Inbox!

The Olive Oil Hunter News #111

Pork Chops with Tomatoes and Capers Recipe and What Makes Olive Oil a Good Fat

As members of the Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club know, the vibrant pepperiness of extra virgin olive oil comes from its polyphenols, important antioxidants that foster good health in so many ways. But there’s more to the story. EVOO’s main nutrient and the source of its calories is monounsaturated fatty acids, or MUFAs, which confer special benefits as well. That’s why many health authorities recommend them over saturated fats (those solid at room temperature, like butter). In this edition of the Newsletter, we’ll look at the one-two punch of MUFAs and polyphenols—and how together they can help staunch a very serious health epidemic, metabolic syndrome. But first, a wonderful winter recipe sure to become a favorite.

Pork Chops with Tomatoes and Capers

  • Pork chops with tomatoes and capers Pork Chops with Tomatoes and Capers

    This Mediterranean-style dish is cooked on the stovetop in a single pan and creates a rich, tomato sauce. 


    • 1/4 cup white whole-wheat or all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon each coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 6 pork chops, each about 1/2-inch thick
    • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1/3 cup chicken stock, homemade or low-sodium store-bought
    • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with its juice
    • 4 tablespoons capers


    Step 1

    Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a pie plate. Heat a frying pan large enough to hold the chops (if necessary, you can cook the chops in batches). Once the pan is hot, add the olive oil and quickly coat both sides of each chop in the flour mixture, shake off any excess, and add to the pan. Sauté 5 minutes on each side or until browned. 

    Step 2

    Transfer the chops to a dish. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté slightly, then deglaze the pan with the vinegar. Add the tomatoes along with their juice, the broth, and the capers, and briefly bring to a boil.

    Step 3

    Add back the chops, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the chops are cooked through and register 145°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 10 minutes more. 

    Yields 6 servings.

Healthy Kitchen Nugget: The Truth About Nondairy Milks

For Your Best Health

What Makes Olive Oil a Good Fat 

The study making news: “The clinical impact of an extra virgin olive oil enriched Mediterranean diet on metabolic syndrome: Lights and shadows of a nutraceutical approach,” a research review published in Frontiers in Nutrition (2022).

Most research on the benefits of olive oil and the Mediterranean diet centers on the healthful properties of its polyphenols, but its fatty acids deliver benefits of their own. What’s more, the polyphenols and fatty acids seem to work in synergy to do even more. 

As stated in this research review, one component of the Mediterranean diet “believed to contribute a strong beneficial effect is extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and with variable concentrations of phenols. These not only determine EVOO’s main organoleptic qualities (oxidative stability, specific flavor, and taste features) but make it a source of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, insulin-sensitizing, cardioprotective, antiatherogenic, neuroprotective, and immunomodulatory activity.” (Antiatherogenic means that it fights against dangerous plaque buildup, or atherosclerosis, along artery walls.)

Why are MUFAs considered good fats?

According to the National Library of Medicine, monounsaturated fats are good for your health in several ways. They can help lower your LDL or bad cholesterol level. Keeping your LDL level low reduces your risk for heart disease and stroke. Also, MUFAs help develop and maintain your cells. Extra virgin olive oil is an excellent source of MUFAs. Olive oil also has the other preferred alternative to saturated fat, PUFAs, or polyunsaturated fatty acids, but to a lesser extent. (Some of the best sources of PUFAs are walnuts, flax, and sunflower seeds.)

For the Frontiers in Nutrition review, the researchers took a deep dive into how EVOO may help with the condition known as metabolic syndrome, one that has become more prevalent as people have become more overweight. According to the review, it’s “an increasingly pressing global health problem, affecting about 31 percent of the world’s population but predicted to increase over 50 percent in the next 15 years.” Metabolic syndrome is typically diagnosed when someone has at least three of these five conditions: abdominal obesity (belly fat), high triglyceride levels, low HDL or good cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and impaired fasting glucose (blood sugar). Each one is a risk factor for various metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, from diabetes to heart disease; having three or more creates a heightened risk.

As the report pointed out,

“The only established, effective treatment is lifestyle modification through increased physical activity, weight loss, and dietary intake high in fruits, vegetables, grains, fish, and low-fat dairy products: i.e., the Mediterranean diet (MD). Several studies have shown a direct correlation between MD adherence and overall reduction in mortality and morbidity.…

“The Mediterranean diet is a cornerstone in treating [metabolic syndrome] and preventing cardiovascular risk. Literature data indicate that an essential component is EVOO which, with high MUFA and polyphenol content, constitutes a food with excellent organoleptic properties and a substance with surprising nutraceutical abilities. EVOO, by activating multiple metabolic pathways, could optimize glycemic control and lipid metabolism, reduce endothelial damage and blood pressure, and provide systemic anti-inflammatory activity.”

Based on the studies that the researchers reviewed, they found that, in particular, “Extra virgin olive oil, due to its high MUFA content, significantly reduces concentrations of total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol, decreasing TC/HDL and LDL/HDL ratios. In this context, polyphenols act synergistically with MUFAs.Overall, EVOO seems to play an antiatherogenic and CVD risk reduction role, improving the overall health status of [metabolic syndrome] patients.” 

The researchers also mentioned that, in addition to helping counteract the inflammation that accompanies overweight, EVOO might indirectly help with weight loss by enhancing the way food tastes and perhaps helping people feel full sooner, thus preventing overeating. 

They did note that there are still unanswered questions. Since most studies don’t spell out the specific varietals of EVOO consumed by participants or their exact polyphenol levels, the researchers can’t say what concentration of polyphenols is needed or which olive varieties are best—things that future studies might tell us. One thing we do know: in general, the fresher the olive oil, the higher its polyphenol content.  

Get More Recipes In Your Inbox!

The Olive Oil Hunter News #108

Roasted Butternut Bisque Recipe and the Connection Between the Vibrant Taste of Virgin Olive Oil and Its Higher Health Benefits

All olive oil is not created equal. If you’re a long-standing Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club member, you know that I’m preaching to the choir, as the saying goes. As your Olive Oil Hunter, I not only search for the best of the best olive oils for you, but I also share the latest research on EVOO. Thanks to ongoing studies, we know that there are differences between run-of-the-mill olive oil and fresh-from-the-mill extra virgin olive oil. The latest findings come from a decade-long Spanish study, and it connects the dots between the vibrant taste of virgin olive oil and its higher health benefits. For a delicious way to get these benefits, here’s the perfect dish for cold winter days—a silky butternut squash soup.

Roasted Butternut Bisque

  • The Olive Oil Hunter News #108 Roasted Butternut Bisque

    This soup is hearty enough for a meal—just add salad and crusty bread. It’s equally delicious made with Hubbard squash when you can find it! You can also get creative with toppings—a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of pomegranate arils, and perhaps roasted and chopped nuts.


    • One 2-pound butternut squash
    • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
    • 1 large onion, diced
    • 2 large carrots, trimmed and sliced
    • 1 apple, such as Macoun or Gala, cut into chunks
    • 3 scallions, trimmed and sliced
    • 2 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium, more as needed
    • 2 tablespoons sherry
    • 1 cup milk
    • ½ teaspoon curry powder (optional)
    • Freshly ground white pepper

    Yields 4 servings


    Step 1

    Preheat your oven to 400°F. Slice the squash lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds (you may roast them separately for a crunchy snack). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and drizzle it with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Place the squash halves, cut side down, on the parchment and roast for one hour or until a knife tip easily pierces the flesh. Let the squash cool while you continue with the recipe.

    Step 2

    Heat a large skillet until hot—a few drops of water sprinkled on the pan will sizzle when it’s ready. Add the rest of the olive oil, the onions, carrots, apple, and scallions; slow-cook until soft but not browned. Add the sherry and cook for another 10 minutes.

    Step 3

    Peel the skin from the squash and cut the squash into chunks. Working in batches as needed, place the squash, the other cooked ingredients, and the broth in a blender and process until smooth. Transfer the soup to a large saucepan and heat through before serving. Season with the curry powder, if desired, and a few pinches of pepper.

Healthy Kitchen Nugget: The Truth About Nondairy Milks

For Your Best Health

Make it extra virgin

From a taste perspective, we know that a peppery tickle is the key sign of fresh-pressed olive oil, oil is rich in polyphenols, the natural phytonutrients that impart olive oil’s health benefits. On the other hand, the more industrial an olive oil’s production, the less taste there is because, as a consequence, there are fewer polyphenols.

It’s interesting to note that quite a number of the studies that have been done on the Mediterranean diet, whose centerpiece is olive oil, didn’t qualify the type of olive oil in people’s diets when their eating habits were recorded or evaluated. The most recent study on olive oil’s benefits, conducted in Spain with 12,161 participants, confirms that this matters. 

This study: “Only virgin type of olive oil consumption reduces the risk of mortality: Results from a Mediterranean population-based cohort,” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, October 2022.

The background: “The Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) represents the dietary pattern that was typically consumed among populations bordering the Mediterranean Sea. This pattern has been strongly and consistently associated with healthy aging and with a reduced risk of mortality, in addition to other health outcomes, such as a deduction in developing cardiovascular disease (CVD), type 2 diabetes, and cancer. 

“The traditional MedDiet is characterized by a high intake of olive oil (OO), fruits, nuts, vegetables, and cereals; a moderate intake of fish and poultry; a low intake of dairy products, red meat, processed meats, and sweets; and a moderate consumption of wine at mealtimes.

“OO is not only the main culinary and dressing fat in Mediterranean countries, but also sets the MedDiet apart from other healthy dietary patterns. There is some observational evidence that OO may play a major role in explaining the associations of the MedDiet with a lower incidence of several chronic diseases, especially CVD. Virgin OO (the highest-quality variety, obtained by mechanical processes and rich in phenolic compounds), has shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-atherosclerotic properties as well as beneficial effects on endothelial function and blood pressure control.”

What we know from past studies: “In the five-year PREDIMED clinical trial, which randomized 7,447 older adults, cardiovascular and total mortality were respectively 38 percent and 10 percent lower among those assigned to a MedDiet supplemented with virgin OO (the goal was to consume 50 g [just under four tablespoons] or more per day) when compared to those assigned to a reduced-fat diet. In a subsequent observational analysis of the PREDIMED population, total OO consumption at baseline was associated with reduced total and cardiovascular mortality, but no significant association was found with cancer mortality. Likewise, in the preceding EPIC-Spain cohort study, both common (processed and refined) and virgin OO (unprocessed and unrefined) varieties were associated with a decreased risk of total and cardiovascular mortality but not with cancer mortality.

“In recent decades, OO has become more popular outside the Mediterranean countries, even in US population. [A] recent study conducted among 60,582 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 31,801 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study has found an inverse association between OO consumption and risk of total and cause-specific mortality. Compared with those who never or rarely consume total OO, those in the highest category of OO consumption (>7 g/d) had 19 percent lower risk of total and CVD mortality and 17 percent lower risk of cancer mortality.

“In European cohorts, however, inconclusive results regarding OO consumption and mortality have been observed. Of note is that—except for the Spanish EPIC cohort and the PREDIMED trial—none of these studies reported the results broking down by main OO varieties. This distinction is important because refined OO has much lower levels of bioactive compounds than virgin OO and may therefore have fewer health benefits.

“Virgin OO contains much higher amounts of bioactive compounds like polyphenols, which have important biological properties. Thus, as interest grows in identifying the best source of fat for human health, studies on the impact of the main OO varieties on mortality as well as the consumption amount required to generate optimal protection are warranted.”

The aim of this study: “Evidence on the association between virgin olive oil and mortality is limited since no attempt has previously been made to discern about main olive oil varieties…we aimed to assess the associations between common and virgin OO consumption and long-term risk of death (all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality) in a large and representative sample of Spanish adults…recruited between 2008 and 2010 and followed up through 2019. Habitual food consumption was collected at baseline with a validated computerized dietary history.” 

The results: “In this representative sample of the Spanish adult population, while common OO was not associated with mortality, virgin OO was associated with a significant 34 percent reduction in all-cause and 57 percent cardiovascular mortality when comparing negligible consumption vs. ~20 g/day of consumption … This is the first study in which a clear benefit on all-cause and cardiovascular mortality has been observed for virgin OO but not for the common OO variety.” 

As the researchers concluded, “these findings may be useful to reappraise dietary guidelines” so that virgin olive oil is specifically suggested for better health. They also pointed out that their work did not find any effect from any type of olive oil on cancer mortality, though other studies, such as the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study they referenced, did find that virgin olive oil may have a protective effect lowering the risk for getting certain cancers. 

Get More Recipes In Your Inbox!

The Olive Oil Hunter News #72

Nutty Oat Muffin Recipe, Spotlight on Oats (and Groats), plus the Body, Gut, and Brain Connection

This week’s news shows just how connected the body, gut, and brain are, with what we eat and how we move very much linked to our mental health. My nutty oat muffin recipe, so easy to make in less than 30 minutes, not only tastes great but can also help boost brain health as well as gut health, thanks to those oats. And we’re learning that movement goes beyond boosting physical health to also benefiting the brain—you can even pick types of exercise based on what mental benefits you seek. 

Nutty Oat Muffins

  • Nutty Oat Muffin Recipe Nutty Oat Muffins

    These muffins have a great crunch and are packed with whole grain goodness. 


    • 1-1/2 cups white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour 
    • 3/4 cup rolled oats 
    • 2 ounces almonds or walnuts, roughly chopped 
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar 
    • 1 tablespoon stevia
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
    • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
    • 1 cup blueberries, rinsed and patted dry
    • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 extra-large eggs
    • 1 cup milk, your choice of dairy or plant-based
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or paste


    Step 1

    Preheat your oven to 400ºF if conventional, 380ºF if convection. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, nuts, baking powder, sugar, stevia, cinnamon, and salt. Add the berries and toss to coat (this will help them stay well distributed in the batter).

    Step 2

    In a separate bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the olive oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla. Pour the liquid ingredients over the flour mixture and use a spatula to fold them in just until no traces of flour remain.

    Step 3

    Use a large ice cream scoop to fill a 12-muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes or until the tip of a knife comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes and then transfer the muffins to a rack to finish cooling. Store in a covered tin for up to two days and then refrigerate.

    Yields 12 muffins

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight: Groats and Oats

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight

From groats to oats

Oats are known as a good source of soluble fiber—the 5 grams per serving help lower cholesterol levels and heart disease risk. Oatmeal is just the beginning of what you can make from rolled oats. In the recipe above, they meld beautifully into the finished muffins. But when a hot bowl of oatmeal is on the breakfast menu, you might be wondering whether you should start with popular steel-cut oats instead. Both come from oat groats, the oat grain with the hull removed (the bran and germ are intact, so oats are still considered a whole grain). What happens to the groats next explains the difference between rolled and steel-cut oats.

Rolled oats are oat groats that have been steamed and then passed through roller mills. The thicker the rolled oats, the more nutrients they pack. 

Steel-cut oats are groats that have only been chopped into two or three pieces, no steaming or rolling. They need to be cooked much longer than rolled oats and are better in breakfast bowls than baked goods—they simply won’t soften enough. Because they need more water to cook than rolled oats, you end up with a bigger portion by volume. Finally, they’re digested more slowly than rolled oats; you feel full longer and have less of a spike in blood sugar—important if you’re managing a health condition like diabetes or prediabetes. 

Healthy Kitchen Nugget: A better vanilla?

Healthy Kitchen Nugget

A better vanilla?

If you’re looking for intense vanilla flavor but don’t want to go to the expense of buying vanilla beans, consider using vanilla paste in place of extract. You can use it teaspoon-for-teaspoon in recipes for a deeper flavor, plus it has vanilla bean seeds for that characteristic speckled look, and because it’s thicker, it adds less liquid to batters. Though you often see the suggestion to use vanilla bean paste in desserts where the vanilla is the star, such as ice cream, custard, and crème brûlée, I find it perks up the flavor of any recipe that calls for extract. 

For Your Best Health: Fiber: The new brain food

For Your Best Health

Fiber: The new brain food

You already know that fiber is a must for digestive health and that we often don’t get enough. Need more motivation to up your intake? Researchers in Japan found that fiber may help brain health. Their study, just published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience, looked at the diet and health records of 3,500 participants from the 1980s to 2020. They found a link between a high-fiber diet and a reduced risk of dementia

There are two main types of fiber. Insoluble fibers, found mostly in whole grains and vegetables, are important for bowel health. Soluble fibers, found in foods like oats and legumes, are important for the beneficial bacteria that live in the gut, among other health benefits. When the researchers looked at the link between fiber intake and dementia, they found that soluble fiber had a more pronounced effect.

“The mechanisms are currently unknown but might involve the interactions that take place between the gut and the brain,” says lead author of the study, Kazumasa Yamagishi, MD, professor at the University of Tsukuba. “One possibility is that soluble fiber regulates the composition of gut bacteria. This composition may affect neuroinflammation, which plays a role in the onset of dementia. It’s also possible that dietary fiber may reduce other risk factors for dementia, such as body weight, blood pressure, lipids, and glucose levels. The work is still at an early stage, and it’s important to confirm the association in other populations.”

While we wait, there’s no reason not to stock up on those oats!

Fitness Flash: Movement for the brain

Fitness Flash

Movement for the brain

More amazing boosts to brain health come from exercise. A fascinating article posted by the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, explores the new book Move!: The New Science of Body Over Mind (Hanover Square Press) by Caroline Williams, who points out that the connection between exercise and the brain goes deeper than the release of feel-good endorphins known as a runner’s high. 

She describes how movement or the lack of it can send signals we may not even be aware of to the brain. As the article explains it: “If our body is communicating to our brain that we are sedentary or weak, that might create underlying feelings of depression or anxiety, insecurity or uncertainty. On the flip side, moving and building strength could create positive changes in our bodily systems that, when passed along to the brain, give us a subtle sense of happiness, confidence, and positivity.” 

Based on interviews with researchers and practitioners around the world, Williams details the many ways that working your body can influence and improve your brain for the better. It’s full of suggestions for different ways of moving that have different brain health benefits. So, while any exercise is helpful for the body physically, you can also make choices tailored to your best mental health, like taking a group fitness class to feel more connected socially or dancing to your favorite music to escape anxiety while getting lost in its rhythms.

Get More Recipes In Your Inbox!