Consuming Extra Virgin Olive Oil Could Protect Against Cognitive Decline And Alzheimer's Disease

First Posted: Jun 23, 2017 04:02 AM EDT

A new study indicates that extra virgin olive has neurological benefits. It is found that the said oil could protect memory and fight against Alzheimer's disease.

The findings of the study were published in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology. The work was led by researchers from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM). The team discovered that extra virgin olive oil could protect against cognitive decline. They also found the mechanisms causing the protective effects of extra-virgin olive oil, according to Medical Xpress.

Domenico Praticò, MD, the Professor in the Center for Translational Medicine at LSKOM and the Departments of Microbiology and Pharmacology and the senior investigator, said that they found that olive oil lessened brain inflammation. It also significantly activates a process called autophagy, which is the process by which cells break down. It also clears out intracellular debris and toxins like amyloid plaques and tau tangles.

Extra virgin olive oil is the key ingredient in the plant-based Mediterranean diet. Professor Praticò said that it is better than fruits and vegetables alone. It is also a monounsaturated vegetable fat that is healthier than saturated animal fats.

The study involved mice, in which the scientist divided the rodents into two groups. The first group was fed a chow diet that had extra virgin olive oil. Meanwhile, the second group consumed a regular chow diet without the oil. When the mice were 6 months old, the olive oils were added to their diet, before the symptoms of Alzheimer's could occur in them.

The team examined the cognitive abilities of the mice. These include the working memory, spatial memory and learning skills. They noticed no differences between the two groups. On the other hand, when the mice were 9 and 12 months old, they become better in the cognitive tests as they were fed by extra virgin oil in their diet, according to Medical News Today.

The researchers also discovered that the integrity of synapses was preserved much better in the olive oil group and the brain tissue of the mice that fed olive oil had increased autophagy activation of the nerve cells. This indicates that it could protect and fight against Alzheimer's disease as the decrease in autophagy could lead to Alzheimer's disease. The team is now planning to conduct a study if olive oil could later in the diet reverse or stop the said disease. 

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