American researchers have dis­cov­ered that a diet rich with extra vir­gin olive oil (EVOO) – a core com­po­nent of the Mediterranean Diet – can ward off mem­ory loss and cog­ni­tive decline, pro­tect­ing the brain from related con­di­tions such as Alzheimer’s dis­ease, Dementia and mem­ory loss.

EVOO could be con­sid­ered as a viable ther­a­peu­tic oppor­tu­nity for pre­vent­ing or halt­ing Alzheimer’s dis­ease.- Temple University researchers

The find­ings, titled ‘Extra-vir­gin olive oil ame­lio­rates cog­ni­tion and neu­ropathol­ogy of the 3xTg mice: role of autophagy’ was pub­lished in the online jour­nal, the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, as a result of stud­ies under­taken by researchers from Philadelphia’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University led by Domenico Praticò, a pro­fes­sor of Pharmacology and Microbiology and the Center for Translational Medicine.
See more: Olive Oil Health Benefits
The study aimed to inves­ti­gate the effect that daily con­sump­tion of EVOO has on the inci­dence of Alzheimer’s dis­ease by inves­ti­gat­ing its impact on an Alzheimer’s dis­ease-like phe­no­type found in mod­i­fied mice.

While recent stud­ies have found that the phe­no­lic com­pounds and antiox­i­dant qual­i­ties of EVOO can pro­tect against both dis­ease-related and age-asso­ci­ated brain oxi­da­tion in mice, these stud­ies only addressed one of the main char­ac­ter­is­tics of the Alzheimer’s dis­ease phe­no­type.

To rem­edy this, researchers used mice that had been genet­i­cally mod­i­fied to dis­play the three main char­ac­ter­is­tics of Alzheimer’s dis­ease: mem­ory impair­ment, amy­loid plaque buildup, and neu­rofib­ril­lary tan­gles. Amyloid plaque buildup occurs when a frag­ment of a pro­tein is pro­duced in excess by the brain and cre­ates a buildup between neu­rons, while neu­rofib­ril­lary tan­gles occur when a pro­tein called tau gets twisted, fail­ing to trans­port essen­tial nutri­ents in the brain and result­ing in brain cell death.

The mice were divided into two ran­dom­ized groups – one was fed a stan­dard diet and the other a diet sup­ple­mented by EVOO from the Apulia region of Italy; an oil selected for its adher­ence to the strin­gent qual­ity cri­te­ria required by researchers.

After a six-month period, the mice were put through var­i­ous cog­ni­tive per­for­mance tests (includ­ing nav­i­gat­ing through a maze and fear response train­ing) before their brains under­went dis­sec­tion and analy­sis.

Researchers dis­cov­ered that the mice on the EVOO-rich diet dis­played restored work­ing and spa­tial mem­ory in com­par­i­son to their base­line per­for­mance. Upon exam­i­na­tion, it was dis­cov­ered that the brains of the mice on the EVOO-rich diet had decreased pep­tide lev­els and deposits.

The diet was also found to decrease the lev­els of tau phos­pho­ry­la­tion and pathol­ogy in the brains of the mice and improve synapse integrity and neu­roin­flam­ma­tion with increased autophagy (the elim­i­na­tion of harm­ful accu­mu­lated debris).

As all the above are major char­ac­ter­is­tics of the Alzheimer’s dis­ease phe­no­type, the study demon­strated that EVOO had a ben­e­fi­cial influ­ence, with researchers con­clud­ing that the study pro­vides “sup­port to the pos­i­tive cross-sec­tional and lon­gi­tu­di­nal data on this com­po­nent of the Mediterranean diet, and most impor­tantly the bio­log­i­cal ratio­nale to the novel hypoth­e­sis that EVOO could be con­sid­ered as a viable ther­a­peu­tic oppor­tu­nity for pre­vent­ing or halt­ing Alzheimer’s dis­ease.”

To fol­low up on the study, Temple Researchers plan on exam­in­ing the effect that EVOO has in mice that have already devel­oped Alzheimer’s symp­toms to see if it can have any ben­e­fit to exist­ing suf­fer­ers of the dis­ease.


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