Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club

Olive oil is shown to improve brain health and memory in individuals with mild cognitive impairment

Adapted from an article by Matt Crouch, Auburn University (, March 6, 2023

Extra virgin olive oil may have positive effects on individuals with mild cognitive impairment, according to a recently completed study published in the journal Nutrients. The study’s findings suggest that compounds found in olive oil positively affect brain health and help improve the blood-brain barrier.

In the study, 25 adult participants experiencing mild cognitive impairment consumed 30 ml (about three tablespoons) of olive oil per day for six months. Thirteen of the participants consumed extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and 12 consumed refined olive oil (ROO), as a control group. EVOO is rich in phenols, while ROO has been purified of phenols.

Study participants took several tests before and after consuming olive oil, including MRI scans, cognitive tests, and blood analysis to measure biomarkers related to Alzheimer’s disease.

This study evaluated the blood-brain barrier and its permeability—the degree to which it protects the brain. The blood-brain barrier, a network of blood vessels and tissue made up of closely spaced cells, plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy brain by protecting the brain from exposure to blood-related neurotoxins and in the clearance of brain waste products.

The study also measured levels of beta-amyloid and tau, two proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease. In people with Alzheimer’s disease, levels of beta-amyloid and tau are increased.

The benefits of olive oil consumption were more pronounced in the EVOO group, but participants in the ROO group experienced improvements as well: Both EVOO and ROO improved cognitive function, as determined by the improved clinical dementia rating and other behavioral scores. Additionally, “our findings showed that EVOO and ROO altered two major biomarkers related to Alzheimer’s disease,” said Kaddoumi. “These alterations collectively could have played a role in improving the blood-brain barrier and improving function and memory.”

This study in individuals with mild cognitive impairment is the first to evaluate what happens to the human brain as a result of consuming olive oil.

“These results are exciting because they support the health benefits of olive oil against Alzheimer’s disease,” said Kaddoumi. “Based on the findings of this study and previous preclinical studies… we can conclude that adding olive oil to our diet could maintain a healthy brain and improve memory function.”

Reference: Kaddoumi A, Denney TS, Deshpande G et al. Extra-virgin olive oil enhances the blood-brain barrier function in mild cognitive impairment: a randomized controlled trial. Nutrients. 2023;14(23):5102.

Lamb Asado with Molho de Campanha

Lamb is a popular meat at Chilean asados (barbecues). Seasoned simply with salt and pepper, then grilled over mature coals, the meat is often served with freshly made rustic sauces or salsas.


For the lamb:

  • One butterflied leg of lamb, about 5 pounds Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the molho de campanha:

  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar, or more to taste
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 medium plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
  • 1/2 sweet onion, peeled and diced
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


Step 1

Cut a small chunk of fat from the lamb (use this to oil the grill grate), then season the meat generously with salt and pepper. Let the meat rest for 45 minutes.

Step 2

Set up a grill for direct grilling and heat to medium-high. Brush the grill grate clean, then impale the lamb fat on a long-handled fork and oil the grill grate. Arrange the lamb on the grate and grill, turning as needed, for 40 minutes to one hour. (The time will depend on the heat of your grill.)

Step 3

In the meantime, place the wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper in a nonreactive mixing bowl and whisk until the salt dissolves. Add the tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, parsley, and oil and stir to mix. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt, black pepper, and/or vinegar as necessary.

Step 4

Let the lamb rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving with the molho de campanha.

Serves 8

Summer Squash in Tomato Broth with Quinoa Timbales

Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro nearly eradicated quinoa from the world during his quest to destroy the Incas. But high in the mountains, some plants survived. A seed rather than a grain, quinoa gives this dish substance.


For the quinoa timbales:

  • 1 cup pre-washed white or black quinoa
  • Vegetable broth
  • Extra virgin olive oil for oiling the ramekins

For the squash:

  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • One large white onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 1/2 pounds zucchini and/or yellow summer squash, trimmed and diced
  • 1 to 2 jalapeños, sliced into rounds (optional)
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea), to taste
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, chives, or flat-leaf parsley, for garnish


Step 1

Prepare the quinoa according to the package directions using vegetable broth instead of water. Oil 6 ramekins or timbale molds and pack with the quinoa. Keep warm.

Step 2

Combine the garlic, half the onion, and the tomatoes in a blender jar or food processor and process until puréed. Heat a large nonreactive skillet. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil and the remaining onions and sauté them over medium heat until soft but not browned, 5 to 6 minutes.

Step 3

Add the squash and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato mixture and the jalapeños, if using. Simmer for about 3 minutes, then add salt to taste.

Step 4

To serve, tip the quinoa timbales into the centers of 6 shallow soup bowls. Ladle the squash and tomato mixture around each timbale. Drizzle with additional olive oil, then sprinkle with chopped herbs. Serve immediately.

Serves 6

Tomatoes a la Plancha

If you don’t own a plancha, you can make this recipe on a stovetop using a cast iron pan with 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil. This recipe also works well with bell pepper halves (stem, slice vertically, and seed them).


  • 4 large or 8 medium ripe tomatoes
  • 6 ounces grated Manchego cheese, about 2 cups
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more, as needed and for drizzling
  • Salt to taste


Step 1

Preheat your grill to medium.

Step 2

Prep the tomatoes by cutting out a circle in the top of each tomato, about a half-inch wider than the stem. Use a small spoon to remove most of
the seeds. Place the tomatoes on a serving dish and pack them with equal amounts of shredded cheese, pressing it in well (this helps keep it in place).

Step 3

Warm the plancha for a few minutes and then brush it liberally with olive oil, about two tablespoons. One at a time, quickly invert each tomato onto a wide metal spatula, cheese side down, and then use another spatula or tongs to slide it onto the plancha; repeat with all the tomatoes. Grill for 5 minutes to melt the cheese.

Step 4

Then, one at a time, slide the spatula under a tomato and flip it right side up, just as you would flip a pancake. Continue grilling, right side up, for another 5 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender. Transfer them back to the serving dish, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

Serves 4