`EVOO Improves Brain Protection in Cases of Mild Cognitive Impairment - Olive Oil Times


EVOO Improves Brain Protection in Cases of Mild Cognitive Impairment

By Paolo DeAndreis
Dec. 30, 2022 12:05 UTC

Extra vir­gin olive oil might pos­i­tively impact brain health and improve the blood-brain bar­rier (BBB) func­tion­al­ity in patients with mild cog­ni­tive impair­ment.

According to a pilot study pub­lished by Nutrients, con­sum­ing extra vir­gin olive oil over six months improves BBB func­tion and enhances brain con­nec­tiv­ity.

Besides the EVOO effect on BBB per­me­abil­ity, the researchers have also shown how con­sum­ing refined olive oil might ben­e­fit clin­i­cal demen­tia and Alzheimer’s disease bio­mark­ers.

Considering the small num­ber of par­tic­i­pants and the short-term study, this must be con­sid­ered pre­lim­i­nary research which hints at sev­eral rel­e­vant ben­e­fits for olive oil con­sump­tion. More exten­sive stud­ies will be needed to addi­tion­ally assess and con­firm the impact of olive oil on brain func­tion­al­ity,” Amal Kaddoumi, pro­fes­sor at the Harrison College of Pharmacy of Auburn University in Alabama, told Olive Oil Times.

While the researchers’ pre­vi­ous stud­ies have shown the ben­e­fi­cial effects of extra vir­gin olive oil con­sump­tion in mice, and other research has shown EVOO’s pos­i­tive impact on humans’ cog­ni­tive health, our study is the first to inves­ti­gate what hap­pens to the brain directly,” Kaddoumi explained.

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The sci­en­tists noted that BBB-reduced func­tion­al­ity is a com­mon char­ac­ter­is­tic of mild cog­ni­tive impair­ment and early Alzheimer’s dis­ease. This tends to lead to abnor­mal BBB per­me­abil­ity, which might con­tribute to the devel­op­ment of demen­tia.

As shown by research, as we age, the BBB func­tion­al­ity is reduced and tends to become leaky. It is a highly rel­e­vant guard that keeps blood-derived con­tent out of the brain and clears brain waste prod­ucts into the blood. When some dis­eases are involved, such as Alzheimer’s, BBB abil­ity might be seri­ously com­pro­mised. That means that the brain can be exposed to neu­ro­toxic sub­stances, and the waste dis­posal abil­ity is reduced to the point that neu­ro­tox­ins start accu­mu­lat­ing in the brain,” Kaddoumi explained, hint­ing at how such con­di­tions could lead to sev­eral neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases.

The study’s authors focused on 25 indi­vid­u­als affected by mild cog­ni­tive impair­ment.

They assessed the effect of daily con­sump­tion of EVOO and refined olive oil for six months on BBB per­me­abil­ity and brain func­tion. Additionally, they looked for cog­ni­tive func­tion changes and Alzheimer’s dis­ease blood bio­mark­ers.

EVOO sig­nif­i­cantly improved clin­i­cal demen­tia rat­ing and behav­ioral scores. EVOO also reduced BBB per­me­abil­ity and enhanced brain func­tional con­nec­tiv­ity,” the researchers wrote.

While refined olive oil con­sump­tion did not alter BBB per­me­abil­ity or brain con­nec­tiv­ity, it improved clin­i­cal demen­tia rat­ing scores and increased func­tional brain acti­va­tion to a mem­ory task in cor­ti­cal regions involved in per­cep­tion and cog­ni­tion,” they added.

EVOO impacts had been sug­gested by pre­vi­ous research, but the cur­rent study also showed a poten­tial ben­e­fi­cial role played by refined olive oil. Interestingly, both extra vir­gin and refined olive oils pro­duced a sig­nif­i­cant reduc­tion in Aβ42/Aβ40 and p‑tau/t‑tau ratios, sug­gest­ing that both types of olive oil altered the pro­cess­ing and clear­ance of amy­loid (Aβ). This result hints at the abil­ity of both olive oil types to cur­tail Alzheimer’s dis­ease onset.

The results for refined olive oil con­sump­tion sur­prised the researchers, who had ini­tially con­sid­ered the par­tic­i­pants con­sum­ing refined olive oil as the con­trol group.

We did not expect such effects from refined olive oil con­sump­tion. We do need larger stud­ies to make defin­i­tive con­clu­sions. However, we should not under­es­ti­mate the poten­tially ben­e­fi­cial health effects of the olive oil’s oleic acid con­tent, which is found in both, EVOO and refined olive oil,” Kaddoumi noted.

Given the results, Kaddoumi dis­cussed the need for future stud­ies to explore how the dif­fer­ent grades of olive oil impact var­i­ous eth­nic groups over a much extended period.


Besides that, Kaddoumi noted that researchers also need to explore the effects of EVOO and refined olive oil on patients with advanced cog­ni­tive impair­ment and other co-exist­ing con­di­tions.

The researchers under­lined how their pre­vi­ous stud­ies in mice might sug­gest that olive oil con­sump­tion could be ben­e­fi­cial for advanced stages of brain dis­eases. But that is not what we explored in our pilot study, so we can­not say any­thing about it. That is an area of research we hope to inves­ti­gate in the future,” Kaddoumi noted.

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On the other hand, EVOO con­sump­tion might also have a pro­tec­tive effect on cog­ni­tively nor­mal indi­vid­u­als and those with mild cog­ni­tive impair­ment.

Those who do not have a cog­ni­tive con­di­tion might well con­sider includ­ing extra vir­gin olive oil in their diet as a sub­sti­tute for other fats they might be using because it can pre­vent and pro­tect their brains or at least delay the onset of cog­ni­tive con­di­tions,” the Auburn University pro­fes­sor explained.


In con­clu­sion, EVOO and refined olive oil improved clin­i­cal demen­tia rat­ing and behav­ioral scores; only EVOO enhanced brain con­nec­tiv­ity and reduced BBB per­me­abil­ity, sug­gest­ing EVOO bio-phe­nols con­tributed to such an effect. This proof-of-con­cept study jus­ti­fies fur­ther clin­i­cal tri­als to assess olive oil’s pro­tec­tive effects against Alzheimer’s dis­ease and its poten­tial role in pre­vent­ing mild cog­ni­tive impair­ment con­ver­sion to Alzheimer’s and related demen­tias,” the researchers wrote.

We must also sin­cerely thank those who col­lab­o­rated and con­tributed to the research and even more those who accepted to par­tic­i­pate in this study. They were very excited about par­tic­i­pat­ing. Many had a fam­ily his­tory and found a great inter­est in the study, which was so impor­tant for them,” Kaddoumi con­cluded.


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