Remember those couple of days last November when you thought you could drink three glasses of Champagne a day for increased memory? Then I came along and burst the bubbles in your bubbly when I told you that the headlines had it wrong. In reality a study showed that three glasses of Champagne a week, not a day, might counteract the memory loss associated with aging.
The compounds in Champagne that improves memory are phenols, substances found in plants that are believed to be antioxidants. These phenols, or phenolics as they are also called, are in vegetables as well as grapes. A new study found that when vegetables are sauteed or deep fried in extra virgin olive oil, the vegetables have additional phenolics that were not identified when they were in their raw form.
In essense, the phenolics from the olives in the olive oil transferred into the vegetables, upping their antioxidant quotient. When the vegetables were cooked in just water, the phenolics in the vegetables decreased. In order to get the total phenolic benefit from eating the vegetables cooked in water, or a combination of water and olive oil, the cooking medium (the water or water and olive oil) needed to be consumed, too.
Of course, the calories and the fat in the vegetables increased when cooked in olive oil, but the fats in olive oil are what are believed to be beneficial fats, and this isn't the first time a study has found that vegetables combined with olive oil have health benefits. Combining olive oil and vegetables also produces nitro fatty acids and may reduce risk for cardiovascular disease recurring cardiac events, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, depression and stroke, plus they might improve physical functioning and cognitive health.
Researchers used potato, tomato, eggplant and pumpkin in their tests. Does this mean that one day we'll be able to eat huge plates of French fries and wash them down with Champagne to increase our health and cognitive abilities? Probably not, but there is the possibility that with more research, it may be that frying eggplant slices at the end of the summer to freeze for later or making fried green tomatoes might be even smarter ways to use up end-of-summer produce than originally thought.
There is one thing to consider before you pour olive oil in a pan to saute your vegetables tonight instead of adding boiling water: The benefits will only come if your olive oil is really olive oil. There is a lot of fake olive oil on the market, even on some grocery store shelves. Make sure you're getting your olive oil from a trusted source. The Truth in Olive Oil website has a list of affordable supermarket olive oils believed to be authentic, including Costco's Kirkland Toscano, Trader Joe's Estate Olive Oil, and Whole Foods California 365.