A new study by researchers at Temple University has demon­strated that con­sum­ing extra vir­gin olive oil in early adult­hood can pro­tect against demen­tia.

The results of the new research pub­lished on November 24, 2019 in the jour­nal Aging Cell reveal that extra vir­gin olive oil con­sump­tion delays the onset of cog­ni­tive impair­ment and demen­tia by slow­ing down a group of dis­eases known as tau­pathies.

The real­iza­tion that extra vir­gin olive oil can pro­tect the brain against dif­fer­ent forms of demen­tia gives us an oppor­tu­nity to learn more about the mech­a­nisms through which it acts to sup­port brain health.- Dr Domenico Praticò, direc­tor of the Alzheimer’s Center at Temple University

This type of men­tal decline occurs when a pro­tein called tau accu­mu­lates in the brain and results in a decline in cog­ni­tive func­tion known as tauopa­thy, or fron­totem­po­ral demen­tia.

The research team was made up of five sci­en­tists from Temple University’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine and the Department of Medico-​Surgical Sciences and Biotechnology at Sapienza University of Rome.

See more: Olive Oil Health Benefits

As part of the study “Extra vir­gin olive oil improves synap­tic activ­ity, short-​term plas­tic­ity, mem­ory, and neu­ropathol­ogy in a tauopa­thy model,” the researchers fed extra vir­gin olive oil to a group of lab mice engi­neered to develop demen­tia and of an age that would be com­pa­ra­ble to 30 or 40 years in humans.

They found that the mice who were fed the olive oil diet were 60 per­cent less likely to develop tau deposits in the brain com­pared to those who were not given extra vir­gin olive oil. The same mice also showed improved per­for­mance on mem­ory and learn­ing tests.

The extra vir­gin olive oil used to feed the lab mice was from the Apulia region of Italy with a total polyphe­nol count of 253 mil­ligram per kilo­gram, while lev­els of α-​tocopherol and γ-​tocopherol (forms of Vitamin E) were mea­sured at 381 mil­ligram per kilo­gram and 23 mil­ligram per kilo­gram, respec­tively, through chem­i­cal analy­sis.

The study points out that there has been increas­ing evi­dence in recent years of the ben­e­fits of con­sum­ing extra vir­gin olive oil for brain health and low­er­ing the risks of Alzheimer’s dis­ease, cog­ni­tive impair­ment, and demen­tia.

Previous research con­ducted by inves­ti­ga­tors at the same school of med­i­cine had con­cluded that con­sump­tion of extra vir­gin olive oil pre­vents mem­ory loss and pro­tects against Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

“Extra vir­gin olive oil has been a part of the human diet for a very long time and has many ben­e­fits for health, for rea­sons that we do not yet fully under­stand,” said Dr Domenico Praticò, direc­tor of the Alzheimer’s Center at Temple University’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine and one of the researchers.

“The real­iza­tion that extra vir­gin olive oil can pro­tect the brain against dif­fer­ent forms of demen­tia gives us an oppor­tu­nity to learn more about the mech­a­nisms through which it acts to sup­port brain health,” he added. “We are par­tic­u­larly inter­ested in know­ing whether extra vir­gin olive oil can reverse tau dam­age and ulti­mately treat tauopa­thy in older mice.”

The results of this study sug­gest that thanks to its ben­e­fi­cial prop­er­ties – includ­ing extra vir­gin olive oil’s high polyphe­nol con­tent, which acts as an antiox­i­dant – its con­sump­tion in early adult­hood can limit cog­ni­tive decline and the onset of age-​related ill­nesses, includ­ing demen­tia.




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