Ask Science: Why Do We Love the Taste of Olive Oil So Damn Much?

Ask Science: Why Do We Love the Taste of Olive Oil So Damn Much?

Written By: Grace Clarke

You have a talent you probably don’t know about: you’re a really good nutritionist. So good, in fact, you don’t even have to think about it. This is your brain, all day:

Sense of taste 🤝 carbs, protein, healthy fats.

“The human sense of taste motivates consumption of foods rich in carbs, proteins and fats,” the Scientific American says.

Translated by the Grazapedia: our bodies are hard-wired to prefer flavors of things that are salty, sweet, satiating. The things that keep us alive, and happy.

Case in point: a friend was having a terrible week. When asked what would help, the response was “a bread basket and some olive oil.” What a sexy way to wade through a stressful slump! But olive oil as “mood medicine” is a pretty real thing.

1. Olive oil speaks your body’s secret language. It improves the way your gut and brain communicate. Polyphenols in the oil protect cells under stress. This might sound microscopic, but a calm gut tells your brain, I’m safe, I’m happy, life’s good.

2. Our brains looooove the golden-y green color. It’s a mix of green pigment (chlorophyll) and yellow (from carotenoids), which our brains see and think, “healthy. Good. Let’s do it.”

3. Olive oil quite literally calms down your nervous system, thanks to the omega-3 fatty acids. This doesn’t mean a shot of olive oil is an instant destresser, but get this: 12,000 people were studied over 6 years. People with higher olive oil consumption showed a lower risk of depression.

4. If you’ve ever coughed after swallowing olive oil, that’s because your body thinks it’s anti-inflammatory medicine. And this was discovered at an olive oil tasting in Sicily in 1999. The scientist at the tasting found the throat burning reminded him of swallowing anti-inflammatory ibuprofen once. He “instantly wondered: Could there be a natural anti-inflammatory agent in extra-virgin olive oil?” Yes.