New study suggests olive oil may improve brain health in dementia patients.

New study suggests olive oil may improve brain health in dementia patients.

The Power of Olive Oil: Lowering the Risk of Dementia

Half a tablespoon of olive oil per day could lower your risk of dying from dementia, a new study reports.

Olive oil

Olive oil has long been recognized for its health benefits. It is a key ingredient in the Mediterranean diet, which has been associated with numerous health advantages. Now, a new study has found that incorporating olive oil into your daily diet could significantly reduce the risk of fatal dementia.

Researchers have observed a fascinating association between daily consumption of olive oil and a decreased risk of dying from dementia. According to the study, participants who included half a tablespoon of olive oil in their daily diet were 28% less likely to die of dementia. Even more intriguing, replacing just a single teaspoon of margarine or mayonnaise with olive oil reduced the risk of fatal dementia by 8–14%. These findings highlight the promising potential of olive oil in safeguarding cognitive health.

Dementia: A Global Health Challenge

Dementia affects over 55 million people worldwide, with approximately 10 million new cases annually. It is also the seventh leading cause of death among older adults. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which primarily affects individuals over the age of 65 in the United States. These alarming statistics underscore the urgent need to explore preventive strategies and interventions for reducing the risk of dementia-related mortality.

The study analyzed health records from 1990 to 2018, including data from 60,582 females and 31,801 males who were free of cardiovascular disease or cancer. The participants’ health was followed for 28 years, providing a comprehensive assessment of the long-term effects of olive oil consumption on dementia-related mortality.

Unlocking the Secrets of Olive Oil and Dementia

The research was inspired by the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, which traditionally incorporates olive oil as the primary source of added fat. The study’s lead author, Dr. Anne-Julie Tessier, a registered dietitian and nutrition research fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, explained that they were particularly interested in examining the association between olive oil and fatal dementia.

In their research, Dr. Tessier and her colleagues discovered that the protective effects of olive oil persisted regardless of diet quality or adherence to the Mediterranean diet. This suggests that olive oil may have independent benefits for cognitive health, regardless of overall dietary patterns. The unique combination of monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E, and polyphenols with antioxidant properties present in olive oil are thought to promote neurogenesis and contribute to its positive effects on brain health.

Furthermore, experts such as Dr. Domenico Praticò, director and professor at the Alzheimer’s Center at Temple University, suggest that compounds like oleocanthal and oleuropein found in olive oil may also play a role in enhancing cognitive function. It is likely that the combination of these different components within olive oil contributes to its overall positive impact on brain health.

Olive Oil’s Brain-Protective Effects

Dr. Amal Khalil Kaddoumi, a professor at the Harrison College of Pharmacy at Auburn University, conducted a study exploring the link between olive oil and Alzheimer’s biomarkers. Although her research did not specifically focus on fatal dementia, her findings emphasized the potential of olive oil in protecting the brain, improving memory, and reducing Alzheimer’s biomarkers.

One of the key substances in olive oil, oleic acid, is believed to contribute to these beneficial effects. In individuals with mild cognitive impairment, extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) enhanced blood-brain barrier function and functional connectivity between different brain areas, potentially highlighting the impact of EVOO-phenolics. Refined olive oil (ROO) also showed positive effects on brain activation, particularly in memory-related regions.

The new study further affirms the brain-protective properties of olive oil, as it outperformed margarine and mayonnaise in terms of reducing the risk of fatal dementia. Dr. Tessier noted that the disparity in levels of dementia mortality could be due in part to the historical inclusion of artificial trans fats in mayonnaise and margarine, which have been phased out in recent years.

Selecting and Consuming Olive Oil for Optimal Benefits

While most research focuses on extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) and its benefits, there is a lack of comprehensive data on other types of olive oil. However, EVOO is generally considered the best option for maximizing health benefits. It is important to choose a product that is prepared using a cold mechanical press method, as this retains the most nutrients from the olive and adheres to the “extra virgin” standard.

To ensure the highest quality, it is crucial to be aware that some manufacturers may mix EVOO with other oils, compromising its purity and efficacy. Ideally, EVOO should be consumed raw, drizzled on salads or bread. However, cooking with olive oil is also acceptable, as it has a high smoking point that prevents significant changes in its chemical composition.

Daily Olive Oil Intake

For optimal brain health benefits, experts recommend consuming two tablespoons of olive oil daily. Studies have shown varying amounts between 1 and 5 tablespoons, but a minimum of 3 tablespoons is often advised. However, it is essential to note that the study did not observe an upper limit beyond which the benefits were no longer evident. Few individuals in the study consumed over 15 grams (15,000 mg) of olive oil daily, indicating that moderation is key.

In conclusion, olive oil has emerged as a powerful ally in the fight against dementia. The study’s findings indicate that incorporating olive oil into your daily diet can significantly reduce the risk of dying from dementia. Its rich content of monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E, and polyphenols may promote neurogenesis and antioxidant activities, contributing to its brain-protective effects. By replacing margarine or mayonnaise with olive oil, individuals can take proactive steps towards maintaining cognitive health. So, embrace the goodness of olive oil and savor its potential benefits for a vibrant mind.