Just in case we needed more reason to add Extra Virgin Olive Oil to our food…
The Greek diet rich in plant-based foods has been praised for its numerous health benefits, including a lower incidence of dementia. Now, new research conducted at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) has identified a specific ingredient that protects against cognitive decline: extra-virgin olive oil, a major component of the Greek diet.
In this new study, published in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, researchers show that the consumption of extra-virgin olive oil helps prevent memory loss, preserves the ability to learn and reduces conditions associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers at the college’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine found mice with EVOO-enriched diets had better memories and learning abilities compared to the rodents who didn’t eat the oil.
The real effect of EVOO appeared in the inner-workings of the mice’s brains. Neuron connections in the brain were better preserved in those on an EVOO diet.
Also, olive oil reduces brain inflammation and activates the autophagy process, whereby intracellular debris and toxins are removed. Such debris and toxins are firm markers of Alzheimer’s disease. A reduction in autophagy, researchers claim, is suspected to be the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease.
“The thinking is that extra-virgin olive oil is better than fruits and vegetables alone,” said senior investigator Domenico Pratico, a professor at the Lewis Klein School of Medicine. “As a monounsaturated vegetable fat, it is healthier than saturated animal fats.”
Pratico said the “exciting” finding sets researchers up for another experiment. The next step is to introduce EVOO later in the aging process.
“Thanks to the autophagy activation, memory and synaptic integrity were preserved, and the pathological effects in animals otherwise destined to develop Alzheimer’s disease were significantly reduced,” Pratico said. “We want to know whether olive oil added at a later time point in the diet can stop or reverse the disease.”