In a study published online June 21 in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, the researchers show that the consumption of extra-virgin olive oil protects memory and learning ability and reduces the formation of amyloid-beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain — classic markers of Alzheimer’s disease.
The Temple team also identified the mechanisms underlying the protective effects of extra-virgin olive oil. “We found that olive oil reduces brain inflammation but most importantly activates a process known as autophagy,” explained senior investigator Domenico Praticò, MD, Professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Microbiology and the Center for Translational Medicine at LKSOM. Autophagy is the process by which cells break down and clear out intracellular debris and toxins, such as amyloid plaques and tau tangles.”
I thought this study was super interesting. We’ve known for a long time that there are health benefits to the Mediterranean diet, which is high in olive oil.
As the lead study author, Dr. Pratico, explains, the Mediterranean diet is believed to be healthy mainly due to its high monounsaturated fat content (“good” fat). However, previous researchers have tended to focus on its positive effects on the heart and cardiovascular system.
This study, on the other hand, shows there is a completely different dimension to why olive oil may be so healthy– not in relation to the heart, but to the brain.
As someone who eats a lot of olive oil herself, I thought this was great news! I would love to explore Mediterranean cooking a bit more, so here is another reason to.