Olive Oil May Help Prevent Neurodegenerative Diseases

Dr. Emilo Ros

A study carried out by the Lipid Unit of the Barcelona Hospital Clinic suggests that high consumption of olive oil, along with other foods rich in antioxidant polyphenols, may improve cognitive function and prevent neurodegenerative diseases. Polyphenols are known to be powerful antioxidants which may help to reverse oxidative damage that occurs in the aging process. This damage is thought to be a causative factor for the development of many lifestyle diseases including, heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

According to Dr. Emilo Ros, one of the authors of the study recently published in The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, it is recommended to use olive oil on a daily basis, consumption of nuts four to seven days per week, and drinking 2 glasses of red wine daily for men and one for women.

This style of eating, which falls in line with the Mediterranean Diet pattern, appears to have positive effects not only on brain function but also cardiovascular health.

The study was carried out as part of the multicenter clinical trial PREDIMED, a long-term nutritional intervention study aimed to assess the effects of the Mediterranean diet in the primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases. The trial involved over 7,000 subjects, aged between 55 and 80, at high risk of cardiovascular disease.

This particular part of the study, included 447 participants, who were asymptomatic but at high cardiovascular risk, and not following a specific diet. The food intake and cardiovascular profile was assessed and the individuals went through a series of neuropsychological tests to evaluate cognitive function. The researchers also analyzed polyphenol levels in the urine in order to have an objective biomarker of intake.

According to the results, it appears that the consumption of olive oil, particularly extra virgin, was associated with better scores in verbal memory tests, whilst a higher intake of nuts and moderate wine consumption were found to have a positive effect on overall cognitive function.

The results suggest a Mediterranean style diet, high in polyphenols, may protect against the cognitive decline associated with age or diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The Mediterranean eating style is also supported by several epidemiological studies which suggest that foods such as fruit, vegetables and fish, in addition to polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin B and antioxidants have similar effects.

The new findings add to the ever growing evidence of the benefits of a Mediterranean style diet in an increasing number of pathologies and were well received by the president of the Mediterranean Diet Foundation Luis Serra Majem.

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This article was last updated May 26, 2015 - 9:33 AM (GMT-5)

  • Lisa

    We are thrilled to see all of the excellent research that is being done to promote olive oil…mostly, though because it is helping all of us to eat properly and contribute to a healthier lifestyle!  Great work!

  • Phyllis Heard

    Those olive growers using organophosphate based insecticides are facing a paradox.They may believe they are producing a healthy oil. Organophosphates such as fenthion/dimethoate/malathion all used to control Bactrocera  or olive fruitfly cause amylin disruption in the liver/pancreas possibly contributing to type 2 diabetes,obesity Alzheimers and Parkinsons or any other neuro degenerative disease caused by oxidative stress as a result of  endocrine disruption.
      Research into obesogens will confirm this is an area of concern for those of us living and working with degenerative brain disease at any age but especially in regard to gestational diabetes. A study of French vineyard workers with a large cohort confirms that heavy insecticide use contributes to the formation of amyloid plaques leading to Alzheimers. The fact that the polyphenols are in oil improves their bioavailabilty.However it  seems it is best to use high polyphenol extra virgin olive oil that is insecticide free if Alzheimers prevention is your aim.All extra virgin olive oil producers using only one malaxing and not deodorising or heat refining their oils should have the pesticide residues tested in their oils. An International standard for neurological safety for all edible oils should be determined. The olive industry is far too preoccupied with Mafia adulterated oil when the issue that should concern all of us is organophosphate adulteration of all edible oils which is far more insidious and dangerous to human health. 
      Only organophosphate free oleocanthal can be said to be truly healthy. The use of lipophilic or fat loving surfactants/ad juvants when spraying olive fruit for olive fruit fly ensures pesticides reach their target disrupting the enteric nervous system and also ensures they reach human fat and livers too.The Brain, according to Tom Mueller world renowned expert on adulterated oils is 70% fat. That being so it seems our frontal lobes need all the protection they can get 

  • http://www.theolivesgift.com/ Mary D.

    Olive oil is the healthiest fat on the planet. It is great to find such wonderful information and learn to follow a diet that is going to result in a better and enjoyable life!