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The Fascinating History Behind St. Augustine, Florida

Americas-Oldest-CityCountry Magazine_Country-Magazine/Courtesy Pat Chuck Blackley

With a fascinating past and more than four centuries of history, St. Augustine is the nation’s oldest continuously inhabited city—and an American treasure. Located on Florida’s Atlantic coast, it is home to many fine examples of European colonial architecture and wild, scenic vistas.

In 1513, while searching for the storied Fountain of Youth, explorer Juan Ponce de Leon happened upon this land. He called it La Florida and claimed it for Spain. Then, in 1565, conquistador Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles established a settlement here, which he named in honor of a Catholic saint. Except for a 20-year period of English rule, Florida remained under Spanish governance until the United States took control in 1821.

Americas-Oldest-CityCountry Magazine/MAP ILLUSTRATION BY SCOTT SCHILLER

In the years after its founding, the city was attacked by the French and English, and by Native Americans of the Timucua tribe, who are said to have shot flaming arrows at the city’s fort, setting it ablaze. More recently, nature has battered the region with successive hurricanes—Matthew in 2016 and Irma in 2017. Still, St. Augustine endures. As the region recovers, visitors shouldn’t overlook it.

A few years ago, we traveled a portion of northeast Florida’s A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway, a 72-mile drive that starts in South Ponte Vedra Beach and ends near Flagler Beach. Our route covered the 23-mile section that begins in St. Augustine. Along the way we found historic sites, state parks, and national monuments.

Americas-Oldest-CityCountry Magazine/Courtesy Pat Chuck Blackley

This enchanting city is a joy to wander, with narrow cobblestone streets lined with buildings in a mix of architectural styles, such as Spanish, French, and English. (Here are some other small towns in the U.S. you’d swear were in Europe.) The Castillo de San Marcos is St. Augustine’s oldest structure. Built in 1672 to repel British attacks, it’s the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States and a national monument.

St. Augustine’s transformation into a prime vacation spot for the elite began in 1888, when wealthy entrepreneur Henry Flagler built the magnificent Hotel Ponce de Leon. The structure, designed in Spanish Renaissance Revival style, is now part of Flagler College’s stunning campus.

Americas-Oldest-CityCountry Magazine/Courtesy Pat Chuck Blackley

Southeast of St. Augustine, we crossed the Matanzas River on the Bridge of Lions to Anastasia Island. There, we met a family who was camping in Anastasia State Park, a beautiful 1,600-acre park with nature trails, tidal salt marshes and 4 miles of unspoiled beaches. (Don’t miss these 50 astonishing facts you never knew about each of the 50 states.)

While on the island, we visited the nearby St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum. Climbing to the top of the 165-foot tower rewarded us with spectacular views of St. Augustine, Matanzas Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Americas-Oldest-CityCountry Magazine/Courtesy Pat Chuck Blackley

As we continued, we traveled through a few pristine beaches before stopping at Fort Matanzas National Monument. From the visitor center, we were ferried to the fort, where we examined its unique building material, coquina, a type of limestone consisting of shells and shell fragments. We also explored the officer’s quarters and the powder magazine as well as the observation and gun decks.

As of this writing, in the wake of Hurricane Irma’s devastation, the ferry service is suspended, but the grounds and visitor center remain open to the public.

Americas-Oldest-CityCountry Magazine/Courtesy Pat Chuck Blackley

Farther south, we stopped at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park. Elaborate formal gardens are the park’s main attraction, with exotic and native species displayed around ponds and along pathways. The park also boasts a stretch of beach known for its coquina rocks.

St. Augustine has weathered much in its long history, as the city’s monuments and wild spaces testify. Hopefully, visitors will come and perhaps cruise Scenic A1A for many years to come, supporting the Florida coast’s recovery while discovering its centuries of history and miles of coastal beauty.

Next, check out these fascinating facts you never knew about America.

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Things Diabetes Doctors Do to Keep Their Own Blood Sugar Under Control

15 Things About Social Anxiety Disorder Psychologists Wish You Knew

Social anxiety disorder can be a truly debilitating condition, but one way to help those suffering from it is for those around them to understand what they’re dealing with. Here, top psychologists explain the ins and outs of SAD.

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Most Shocking Royal Family Feuds in History

The 14 Most Insightful Things We’ve Read About Donald Trump in 2016

Matilda vs. the people Historia/REX/Shutterstock At the age of 58, King Henry I appointed his daughter, Matilda, the heir to the throne of England and Normandy once he passed. But, it was 1126—and the people weren’t very happy about the new heir because they had never had a woman ruler. The king’s death led to […]

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Things About Social Anxiety Disorder Psychologists Wish You Knew

Anxiety is common

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Anxiety is one of the most prevalent mental illnesses in the United States, affecting approximately 40 million American adults (18 percent of the population). If that’s not jarring enough, it’s still a highly under-recognized condition—although so many suffer, most people suffer in silence. Social anxiety disorder (SAD), otherwise known as social phobia, is one common type of anxiety disorder that involves a significant amount of fear in one or more social situations. “These fears can be triggered by real or perceived criticism by others and can impact a person at school, work, a social gathering, crowded place like restaurants, bars or sporting event, and even places like doctor’s offices or stores,” explains Jesse Matthews, PsyD, Pennsylvania-based psychologist.

(If you’re surprised to find that SAD is so common, check out some more common myths about mental health.)

SAD affects people of all ages

Social anxiety disorder doesn’t discriminate by age, gender, race, culture or any other variable. “The research shows that SAD tends to be more prevalent, however, in those who value others’ opinions about them, particularly as they relate to opportunities for friendship, relationships or employment,” says Dr. Matthews. Though most people have experienced some degree of being hyper-aroused in social situations, only about 7 percent of adults are currently suffering from social anxiety disorder specifically, and only about 2 percent severely, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Here are some small, but effective strategies for dealing with social anxiety.

SAD comes with physical symptoms

Symptoms of SAD can be as harmless as feeling hot and sweaty, breathing heavy, experiencing headaches or even nausea, but it can also come with more serious side effects such as panic attacks, tremors, heart palpitations, lightheadedness, and an upset stomach. “Individuals may also have negative thoughts about themselves, difficulty focusing on a task (such as a speech or presentation) or feeling as though everyone is watching or judging them,” says Dr. Matthews.

SAD may stem from childhood experiences

While anyone can develop SAD, research has found a connection to childhood trauma. Specifically, Pilar Jennings, PhD, psychoanalyst and author of To Heal a Wounded Heart, says that it tends to be common in individuals who were raised in a family with high or rigid expectations. “Families prone to shame and blame also tend to induce pervasive anxiety—the sense of walking a tightrope can develop and become part of people’s inner template for a relationship,” she adds. “When we’re young, we develop beliefs about who we are and how relationships work before we can consciously reflect on these beliefs, but for people raised in families that create anxiety, these beliefs can feel like absolute truths,” she explains.

People with SAD may avoid social interaction

It’s an understandable way to cope, but isolation can deprive SAD sufferers of the opportunity to enjoy situations that can end up giving them confidence, says Dr. Jennings. While it’s not easy, she says, if you’re suffering from this anxiety, being social can be healing. “Be patient with yourself—it can take time to trust that judgment and criticism are not the only acceptable outcome.”

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People closest to sufferers can get hurt

SAD can be hard on friends, family members, co-workers, and significant others—for example, when a SAD sufferer snaps at a friend encouraging him or her to be more social. “Social anxiety is about the person suffering from it—it stems from their own feelings and symptoms about interacting socially in general,” says Paulette Sherman, PsyD, psychologist, director of the site My Dating & Relationship School, and author of Dating from the Inside Out. “The likelihood is that a SAD sufferer is disappointed for disappointing a friend, and that they care about that friend very much.” Here are tips on solving everyday friendship problems.

SAD is not synonymous with “anti-social”

“It is untrue that most people with social anxiety prefer to be antisocial and to avoid connecting with others,” says Dr. Sherman. “In fact, many of them feel very lonely and want nothing more than to connect and feel a sense of support, acceptance, community, and belonging.” Their wish is often to be able to go out and have fun, but it’s often their fears of judgment and anxiety that stop them from acting on this desire, Dr. Sherman explains. “It is something they need to learn how to combat through treatment and possibly with the help of medication over time.”

SAD can be unpredictable

“There are cases where someone with social anxiety feels fine, and then suddenly something is triggered and they start to have a panic attack or other symptoms and want to leave an event,” says Dr. Sherman. “Although this may be difficult to understand for the person with them, it is not an attempt at manipulation or something they can control.”

Do you know the symptoms of a panic attack?

SAD doesn’t just cause distress in the heat of the moment

Many people who suffer from SAD experience anticipatory anxiety—they worry about an episode occurring. “An individual may begin to experience symptoms moments, hours, days, or even weeks before a known event,” says Dr. Matthews. This is particularly common in situations involving public speaking. “A person may fear that he will look bad while speaking, stutter or fumble over words, sound like he doesn’t know what he is talking about or face questions he isn’t prepared to answer,” says Dr. Matthews. “Given the height of the anxiety, any of this may actually occur!”

It’s hard for SAD sufferers to meet new people

“The fact that they have no basis of trust or experience with that person can make the stakes feel higher because there are more unknowns,” says Dr. Sherman. “They may need more support and compassion in these situations should they attempt to work through them.”

Take advantage of these eight tips on the best ways to meet—and attract—people.

People with SAD are often hypercritical of themselves

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According to Dr. Matthews, SAD sufferers can set unrealistically high expectations on their appearance, behavior, or performance, and become obsessed with minor details. “If they perceive anything as even slightly wrong, they may blow it out of proportion,” he says. “For example, if a person has a pimple or spills a small amount of coffee on himself, he may be overly conscious of his appearance, or if he trips on the carpet or drops his papers prior to a presentation, his anxiety may go sky high, thus impacting performance.”

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SAD steals opportunity

Dr. Matthews explains that fear of judgment or rejection interferes with meeting new friends or going on dates—and the fear can also cause them to drift apart from existing friends. “Individuals may even limit themselves in terms of school or career, opting for online college or commuting locally instead of going away to college or taking a lower-paying job or declining a promotion in order to avoid having to deal with people,” he says.

You can’t talk someone out of social anxiety

If you’re not suffering from SAD yourself, it can be difficult to understand what it’s like and why someone can’t seem to “shake it off.” But logic doesn’t play a role in this condition: “If someone has SAD, their social anxiety consists of physical symptoms, fears, negative thoughts and a constellation of things that can often require cognitive therapy and medication,” says Dr. Sherman. “Although you would love to help, it’s unrealistic to think you can cheerlead or talk someone out of this and it puts undue pressure and unrealistic expectations on that person.”

Social anxiety usually comes with a lot of embarrassment and shame

Those suffering from this disorder often feel they’re being judged harshly by others—and that can lead them to be difficult to deal with. Knowing the source of this behavior, however, can help you help them alleviate the shame, notes. Dr. Jennings. “It has a cause, sometimes multiple causes, and more awareness of these causes can usher in needed compassion alongside increased trust in healing,” he says.

Many sufferers self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs

There’s a reason alcohol goes by the name “liquid courage.” Drinking and drugs lower people’s inhibitions, often reducing anxiety and making people less self-conscious. Relying on it as a means of opening up and relaxing in social situations can be dangerous, especially if you’re taking other medications for anxiety. “Anti-anxiety medications may also be used for the purpose of allowing people to relax in social situations, though regular use isn’t typically indicated, due to their often addictive nature,” says Dr. Matthews. “It can also be very dangerous, even fatal, for individuals to mix alcohol with other substances, including anti-anxiety medications.” Try these natural remedies for anxiety disorders instead.

SAD is treatable

Fortunately, there is a lot people can do to help themselves manage symptoms of social anxiety. “There is a lot of support available these days in the form of self-help books, online communities and support, therapy and skills training, and medication,” says Marni Amsellem, PhD, consultant and private psychology practice, Smart Health Psychology. “All have their benefits, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach.” One of the more popular methods of treatment for SAD is cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), which involves helping an individual understand the connection between their thoughts, feelings, and behavior while helping them to learn skills for altering their anxious thoughts, thus reducing anxious feelings and behavior, explains Dr. Matthews. “Medication may also be prescribed by a physician to help a person to manage symptoms of SAD, though a person must be careful to follow the physician’s orders, keeping in mind that these kinds of medications may be abused or a person could develop a dependency on them,” he adds. Medication, of course, can help to manage symptoms, but does not teach a person about their anxiety or how to cope with it the way CBT can.

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15 Surprising Reasons Your Partner Doesn’t Want Sex

Financial woes

Considering that money troubles are a top cause of a breakup (here are the other top signs of divorce), it’s not a surprise that financial issues can cause rifts in even the most harmonious couples. “The results of unaddressed financial stressors in a relationship can cause negative feelings towards your partner, fear and anxiety, broken trust, depression symptoms and a lack of sexual desire,” says Crystal Hollenbeck, EdD, licensed mental health counselor. “Combining finances, creating a budget, and agreeing as a couple on financial goals will increase the sense of closeness, trust, and security within the relationship.”

Too many distractions

These days, it’s hard to sit on the couch and watch a TV show with your partner or go out to dinner at a nice restaurant without looking at your phone every five minutes. And this can seriously drive a wedge between couples romantically. “If your answer is your phone or tablet and not your partner, it’s time to make some changes,” says Celeste Holbrook, PhD, sexual health consultant. “Plug your phone in the kitchen and (gasp) get a regular alarm clock—even an extra 10 minutes connecting with your partner sans electronic devices can give you a great boost in your sex life and relationship.” Here are signs you’re way too addicted to your phone.

Tension in the relationship

Young couple having a problem. Handsome man is holding hands together while sitting on bed, woman is lying in the background

Wherever the conflict is coming from, be it him neglecting to pick up his socks off the floor or her forgetting to fish out her hair from the shower drain, if not properly addressed it can cause a rift between couples. “Any kind of tension that builds up and smolders is the death of sex,” says Claudia Six, PhD, sexologist and author of Erotic Integrity: How to Be True to Your Sexuality. “You have to address the resentments, resolve the conflicts, apologize sincerely and learn to communicate more effectively.” It’s having these difficult conversations, she adds, that have the most potential to fuel your sex life—check out these other surefire methods for a more intimate relationship.

Lack of exercise

When you get your heart rate up and start sweating mid-workout, your body is releasing what’s known as endorphins, or feel-good chemicals in your brain that put you in a better mood. This alone can make you more interested in hitting the sheets with your partner, coupled with an increase in body confidence thanks to your hard-earned workout. So what are you waiting for? Get moving! Even better, workout with your partner so you both enjoy the benefits.


If one or both partners were unfaithful, recovering a sexual connection can be difficult. “Whether it is the man or the woman who was cheating, the trust, which is such an important part of the intimate connection, has been eroded,” explains Wendi L. Dumbroff, a licensed professional counselor. “This makes it difficult to fall back into each other’s arms.” She recommends couples therapy but explains that therapy alone is not always sufficient in helping couples to resume a sexual relationship. “Slowly reconnecting in ways that feel safe for the partner who was cheated on, along with the changed dynamic between the partners develop through the couples therapy can begin to heal and create intimacy between them once again,” she adds. Read subtle signs you’ve got a cheating spouse.

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Lack of body confidence

No matter your age, pants size or weight, not feeling confident in your own skin and with the body that you will use to have sex is a major obstacle in the way to great sex, experts say. “Couples and sex therapy are useful to help partners communicate more freely around sexual issues, as well as helping to ensure that they can enjoy the sex that they do have,” says Dumbroff. (Check out the things sex therapists wish you knew.) “Additionally, practicing mindfulness exercises and learning to be present in the moment is very important, not just around how people feel about their bodies, is key to really being able to fully engage in a positive sexual experience.”



Beautiful young woman taking pill, closeup

Many medications can cause low libido or have side effects like vaginal dryness. Antihistamines can dry up all your membranes, from your nose to your vagina, explains Dr. Holbrook. “You may be feeling interested in sex, but need to grab some lubricant to make sure it is comfortable.” Always check in with your doctor about side effects before starting a medication and take some time to figure out any necessary workarounds, whether it’s lubricant, extra time in foreplay, or sex prior to taking your meds for the day, adds Dr. Holbrook. Read 13 things your vagina is secretly trying to tell you.

Birth trauma

No woman who carried a baby for nine months and then went through childbirth wants to hear it: Men can experience post-traumatic stress-like symptoms after witnessing the birth of a child. This, Dr. Hollenbeck says, can leave a man unable to engage sexually with his partner. “He or she may not be able to look at the vulva (vaginal area) in the same way he did prior to seeing the birth process,” she explains. “For the woman, her vaginal area may have suffered damage, so she may be experiencing postpartum depression, be traumatized by the rigor of the birth experience, or be traumatized by complications related to the health of the baby.” PTSD can be treated effectively with therapy or medication.

(New moms, keep an eye out for the signs of postpartum depression.)

Religious or personal beliefs

Dumbroff explains that although someone may not be consciously aware of why they don’t want sex, they may carry learned messages from childhood that can penetrate deeply and show up in a lack of desire or even an aversion to sex. “Taking detailed sexual histories and learning about a person’s family of origin can help to unpack these beliefs and messages and bring them into the light,” she says. “A person may then be freer to explore their sexuality and can begin to create a new narrative around sex and what it means to be a sexual being.”

Erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is becoming increasingly common, affecting an estimated 52 percent of men, according to the Massachusetts Male Aging Study. In fact, at age 40 approximately 40 percent of men are affected and those rates increase to nearly 70 percent in men aged 70 years. “Men would rather avoid a sexual encounter because of what they see as their ‘non-working penis,’ than be embarrassed with a woman—even a significant other,” Dumbroff explains. “It may just be performance anxiety because of the one time they were unable to get or to keep an erection.” For issues such as this, she recommends men first be checked by a doctor, especially if they’re suddenly unable to get an erection, as it may be the result of a genitourinary issue or a cardiovascular problem. Sex therapy can also help couples expand their definition of sex past the act of penetration, she adds.

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The sex is not to their liking

“Sometimes people realize that they may not be turned on by ‘vanilla sex,’ but rather that they are in fact kinky in their sexual preferences,” explains Dumbroff. “It’s not that people who are into kink never have vanilla sex, but if it’s the only diet they’ve been fed, they may be bored and need to spice it up!” This, she explains, can present problems if their partner is not interested. “If the kinky person needs to have that in their life and cannot meet their needs with porn alone, a discussion about the possibility of finding it outside the primary relationship may be necessary,” she adds. Read common myths about sex after 50.

Sex addiction

Sensual beautiful young couple is having sex on bed

If your partner is engaging in secret sexual behavior or has betrayed the relationship multiple times, Dr. Hollenbeck warns that this could be an indication of sex addiction, which is an intimacy disorder that must be treated by a certified sex addiction therapist. “The person struggling with sex addiction may be engaging in sex with other people, obsessed with pornography, masturbating too often or avoiding sex with their partner due to shame and guilt related to the out of control sexual behaviors,” she says. “The partner of a sex addict is often traumatized by the discovery of their partner’s secret life and the broken trust and sexual betrayal can be the cause of their loss of desire for sex.” Successful treatment for both the addict and the partner is available and the couple can have sobriety and a healthy sex life together through therapy. Here are some simple ways to improve your sex life.


Sexual pain often prevents a spouse, especially a woman, from wanting to engage in sex, according to Dumbroff. There are several reasons why this very real pain strikes during intercourse, which is why she recommends both women and men to seek medical treatment if they’re experiencing discomfort. “Some are definitely physical in their origin—an example is post menopausal women suffering from dryness or women who have undergone chemotherapy, which can also create dryness and changes in the vaginal mucosa,” she says. “Lubricants and certain medical treatments can help with dryness as well as pelvic floor exercises.”

Past sexual abuse

People with histories of sexual abuse—men and women alike—may avoid sex, explains Dumbroff. “Many times individuals have never even connected their personal history of abuse with their issues around their desire for sex, but the impact can be very powerful,” she says. “This most definitely requires couple and sex therapy and the partner with the history of abuse needs to have control over the pace of what happens.” Learn what this woman managed to do after years of sexual abuse.

Lack of hygiene and etiquette

Whether you’ve been with your partner for just a few months or decades, self-care is an essential piece of the sexual desire puzzle. “Practicing good dental and bodily hygiene and keeping your hair groomed (including the vaginal area, beards and mustaches, underarms and legs and giving attention to your hair style and maintenance) are areas couples must give attention to throughout the entire duration of the relationship and not only when you are dating or have special occasions to attend,” says Dr. Hollenback. “Common complaints in this area are partners being “turned off” by gas, burping, seeing their partner dress up for work, but not when they are spending time together, and the lack of bathroom privacy.” Communication is paramount when it comes to resolving these issues, as it’s impossible for your partner to know something is bothering you if you don’t tell him or her.

The post 15 Surprising Reasons Your Partner Doesn’t Want Sex appeared first on Reader's Digest.

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Weighing Yourself Can Help You Maintain Weight Loss

Reduce Stomach Bloating: 9 Daily Habits That Flatten Your Belly

279photo Studio/ShutterstockFor as a long as I can remember, I have always been on some sort of diet. However, they never stuck for too long because one thing or another would set off my emotional eating, and I would be right back to cheeseburgers and lots of ice cream. My body gains and loses weight […]

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21 Amazing Health and Beauty Benefits of Olive Oil


Can olive oil make you “forget to die”? It’s true that people live longer in some regions where they follow the Mediterranean diet, and scientists have studied the benefits of olive oil—specifically extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)—with respect to this phenomenon. “Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat, rich in polyphenols,” says Neal Shipley, MD, medical director at Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care in New York. “Polyphenols are known to be a valuable component of a healthful diet, fighting age-related diseases such as high blood pressure and heart disease.”

Preventing stroke

One of the ways to reduce your risk of stroke is to add more olive oil to your diet. “There are many studies to support that regular consumption of extra-virgin olive oil can lower risk of stroke,” Dr. Shipley says. Research from France found that study participants who used olive oil regularly had a 41 percent reduced risk of stroke compare to those who never used it.

Heart health

Among the other cardiovascular benefits of olive oil are the effect of their monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which can help keep your ticker working well, according to the American Heart Association. “Another recent study was able to demonstrate that olive oil consumption, specifically the extra-virgin variety, is associated with reduced risks of cardiovascular disease and mortality in individuals at high cardiovascular risk,” Dr. Shipley says. However, you only receive EVOO’s benefits when you replace unhealthy oils or butter with it—not when you add it to what you’re already eating. In case you’re wondering, this is what makes olive oil “extra virgin.”

Smooth hair

Hair Care. Closeup Of Beautiful Girl After Bath Hairbrushing Healthy Straight Brown Hair. Young Woman Brushing Her Long Wet Hair With Wooden Comb. Health And Beauty Concept. High Resolution Image

The benefits of olive oil also extend to beauty hacks. As a natural conditioner, olive oil is nature’s cure for dry hair. Try massaging it directly into parched tips. “Another way you can take advantage of the hydrating nature of olive oil is by adding a few tablespoons of it to your shampoo,” says Larissa Iracheta, director of quality at Deoleo, the parent company of Bertolli and Carapelli olive oils. “This technique will help soften and strengthen your hair.” Olive oil works particularly well for thick, processed, or split hair.

Better cholesterol

One of the reasons EVOO is so good for cardiovascular health is because it reduces the cholesterol that clogs arteries. “In a study from the medical journal Circulation, researchers found that participants who consumed a Mediterranean diet enriched with olive oil had better working levels of HDL cholesterol, or ‘the good cholesterol,’ which aids in removing LDL, the ‘bad cholesterol,’ from one’s blood stream,” Dr. Shipley says. But first, you’ll need these tasty recipes that follow a Mediterranean diet plan.

Improving acne

One of the daily habits of people who never get acne is following a Mediterranean diet that includes olive oil. Actress Chloe Grace Moretz credits olive oil with getting rid of her acne. “I wash my face with olive oil,” she told Allure. “I swear my skin is so much clearer because of it.” In the same way olive oil can remove oil-based makeup (more on that later), it can help remove the oil from your skin. Plus, some studies have shown olive oil has antibacterial properties, which can help clear up skin infections that can lead to breakouts.

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Warding off cancer

Add EVOO to the list of proven foods to help prevent cancer. Olive oil’s antioxidants may keep abnormal cells from growing—and one study even showed a compound in olive oil to actually kill cancer cells. “Oleic acid, the main monounsaturated fatty acid in olive oil, has been shown to stop cancer-causing protein activity in brain cells,” Dr. Shipley says. “Researchers are still determining whether the dietary intake of olive oil can provide this benefit.” Still, it’s worth it even for a potential life-saving benefit. These are the signs you’re not eating enough healthy fats.

Treating dry scalp

If your scalp is dry in the winter, try another natural olive oil for hair treatment. Apply olive oil to your scalp and let it sit for an hour, or overnight (cover with a shower cap), then shampoo it out. But be sure that your condition isn’t actually dandruff, which is caused by an overactive fungus. If that’s the case, see your doctor or dermatologist for professional help, although eating more monounsaturated fats like those found in olive oil may actually help dandruff as well.

Calming inflammation

Another reason for olive oil health benefits may be that it helps lower the inflammation associated with so many medical conditions. “Polyphenols are anti-inflammatory,” Dr. Shipley says. “One specific phenol compound, oleocanthal, has been known to act in a similar way as ibuprofen in the body.” While ibuprofen isn’t recommended to take long-term, olive oil can be part of a life-long approach to healthy living. Look out for these signs that you’re buying fake olive oil.

Preventing diabetes

medicine, diabetes, glycemia, health care and people concept - close up of male finger with blood drop and test stripe

Studies have shown that EVOO consumption reduces post-meal blood sugar levels in both healthy and diabetic participants. “High levels of sugar in the blood cause oxidative stress—this stress is a main component of diabetes,” Dr. Shipley says. “Extra-virgin olive oil is rich in antioxidants that can help diminish this stress, thus reducing the risk of complications of diabetes.” Also, a component found in olives called oleuropein may help to increase insulin secretion, which may control metabolism and help prevent diabetes, he says.

Moisturizing skin

One of the super-calming face mask ingredients that soothe winter’s dry skin is olive oil. “EVOO is so great for skin because of its high levels of polyphenols, vitamin E, and phytosterols, which function as both antioxidants and anti-inflammatories,” says Jessa Blades, a natural beauty expert and makeup artist. “The oil helps to protect against sun damaged skin and increase the moisture retention capacity of the skin. To use as a moisturizer for the face, I like to spray a toner or hydosol to the skin first, and then massage the oil into that.” Olive oil can be used as an all-over body moisturizer, too.

Improved brain function

Science just proved olive oil can stave off Alzheimer’s. “A recent study of mice found that regular consumption of extra-virgin olive oil can aid in learning ability and memory by protecting brain tissue from toxic substances, called amyloid-beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, that are believed to cause Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Shipley says. Although this study was in rodents, it’s hopeful that more research will verify the findings in humans.

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Maintaining a healthy weight

Although olive oil should be consumed in moderation, it can help you keep the scale at a healthy number by replacing other, unhealthier oils, according to the Mayo Clinic. “Not only does fat not make you fat, but it is essential in maintaining a healthy weight, and is even a necessary part of a weight loss protocol,” says Dr. Frank Lipman, bestselling author and founder of Be Well and the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City. Studies have shown a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil doesn’t lead to weight gain—and can even lead to weight loss. Plus, “healthy fats allow you to feel satiated from a meal, which prevents overeating and binging that we often see on low fat diets,” he says. Don’t miss these other tips for losing weight on a Mediterranean diet.

DIY lip scrub

Looking for homemade remedies for dry and chapped lips when lip balm just won’t cut it? Try a scrub of natural ingredients. “Olive oil is very hydrating,” Iracheta says. “You can make an easy lip scrub by mixing olive oil, sugar, honey, and brown sugar.” This combo gets rid of dead skin while it smoothes and brightens your lip. Gently apply to rough lips to restore softness—just don’t rub too hard.

Helping rheumatoid arthritis

Millennials may need to start worrying about rheumatoid arthritis (RA), because it doesn’t just affect older people. But no matter what age you are, the anti-inflammatory effects of olive oil may help stave off the condition. A study from Spain found that injecting a polyphenol extract from EVOO into mice affected with RA reduced effects from the disease. Although we don’t know for sure that consuming it will have the same result, the compounds in olive oil are proven to be beneficial, and its use is supported by the Arthritis Foundation.

Getting rid of lice

Olive oil has been used in hair care for thousands of years, and one reason why could be because it helps keep lice away. This technique hasn’t exactly been scientifically proven, but studies have shown that chemical treatments have created “super lice” that are now resistant to them. So, try out this home remedy: Saturate the entire head, cover, and leave on overnight. Then, use a nit comb thoroughly and wash out.

Treating eczema

Skin that’s irritated may also benefit from the soothing properties of olive oil. Because of its anti-inflammatory action, olive oil could work to calm the hyperactive sensitivity of eczema-prone skin. Check with your doctor before starting this regimen, and stop if it makes your skin more inflamed.

Anti-aging skin treatment

One of the everyday habits that can make you look way younger is an olive oil skin regimen. The antioxidants in olive oil work as an anti-aging treatment to revitalize older skin when topically applied. “These antioxidants include vitamin E and polyphenols, which help to gather and neutralize free radicals that can otherwise damage the skin and advance the appearance of aging,” Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care in Maryland, told Women’s Health.

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Fighting depression

A growing body of research is showing a link between food and mental health, according to the American Psychological Association. One recent study from Australia showed that participants with depression who were counseled on eating a Mediterranean diet containing olive oil were five times as likely to improve than those who received social counseling. Though small, it was the first randomized trial that showed foods could treat depression, likely through the anti-inflammatory properties they contain. “It supports the previous extensive research from human population studies and animal research suggesting that diet is a key determinant of mental and brain health,” study author Felice Jacka said in a press release. Check out these simple tricks to make your current diet more Mediterranean.

Natural makeup remover

You might think that olive oil would make a dirty, greasy face even greasier, but it turns out the opposite is true. Olive oil grabs onto other oils, taking them with it as you wipe. “Olive oil works similarly to makeup removers, and it is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores,” Iracheta says. Blades notes that it’s great for removing waterproof mascara without irritating eyes.

Aiding digestion

Olive oil helps your body absorb the nutrients it needs from foods, according to research from Purdue University. “Good quality olive oil helps with digestion by lubricating the digestive tract, and as a fat, it allows for the absorption of the fat soluble vitamins that exist in the real, wholesome foods that should be eaten at every meal,” Dr. Lipman says. “It’s a healthy fat that I often recommend to patients and use in my own life.”

More beauty uses

Stock olive oil in your medicine cabinet, as well as in your pantry, because there are myriad other beauty uses for it. “I love to add it to my hands at night for a hand massage while watching a movie. It softens my cuticles and makes the massage really easy to do,” Blades says. Olive oil can also be used as shaving cream or to heal cracked heels. Check out even more extraordinary uses for olive oil.

The post 21 Amazing Health and Beauty Benefits of Olive Oil appeared first on Reader's Digest.

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