It’s no secret that extra virgin olive oil has voluminous health benefits, and the latest lab results have found yet another significant disease that could be prevented with the consumption of olive oil. Researchers are even stating that these findings should be considered reason enough to add olive oil to your daily diet.
A new study shows that olive oil protects brain tissue from the toxic substances thought to cause Alzheimer’s disease.
The experiment used mice to examine the effects of a diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil versus one without it. Researchers were interested in three types of outcomes all associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s: memory impairment, presence of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.
Mice in both groups were biologically engineered to develop Alzheimer’s. The olive oil group started having extra-virgin olive oil introduced into their diets when they were six months old, before symptoms of the disease would begin appearing. At the nine- and 12-month marks, both groups of mice were given tests designed to assess working memory, spatial memory and learning ability. The olive oil group did significantly better on all of the tests.
The researchers then examined the brain tissue from both groups and found big differences that could only be attributed to diet. Brain cells in the olive oil group were visibly healthier, with stronger connectivity between neurons. Amyloid plaques—the result of toxic proteins accumulating in the brain—were reduced in the olive oil group, as were levels of phosphorylated tau, the substance responsible for neurofibrillary tangles that disrupt brain cell function in Alzheimer’s patients.
The researchers think that olive oil sparks “nerve cell autophagy,” a process that destroys and removes amyloid and phosphorylated tau before either have a chance to accumulate in the brain and cause the onset of Alzheimer’s.
This is an exciting finding! 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. This is a very important discovery, since we suspect that a reduction in autophagy marks the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease. – Senior study author Domenico Praticò, M.D
Although this study only proves the effect of olive oil on mice’s memory and is yet to be confirmed to prevent Alzheimer’s in humans, there are a number of other studies that show that olive oil has already been linked to a wealth of health benefits, including lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and weight loss.
And results are important enough to absolutely encourage people to consume greater amounts of EVOO. Given that it’s been consumed for at least 2000 years, I do not anticipate any side effects. – Domenico Praticò
The study was published online June 21 in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.