`Olive Wellness Institute Questions Study on Diet and Dementia - Olive Oil Times

Olive Wellness Institute Questions Study on Diet and Dementia

By Paolo DeAndreis
Nov. 28, 2022 14:00 UTC

The use of the term Mediterranean diet’ in a long-term, large-scale study that found no link between diet and reduced demen­tia risk has come under crit­i­cism across the olive oil world.

The Olive Wellness Institute, a promi­nent olive oil sci­ence orga­ni­za­tion, said the study’s con­clu­sions should be inter­preted with extreme cau­tion.”

In the study, Swedish researchers found that par­tic­i­pants fol­low­ing a mod­i­fied Mediterranean diet, where the main dietary fat is com­prised of olive oil and veg­etable oil due to low olive oil con­sump­tion in Sweden, saw no reduced demen­tia risk either.

See Also:Researchers Review Benefits of Mediterranean Diet to Reduce Obesity

Traditionally, extra vir­gin olive oil is the main dietary fat in the Mediterranean diet.

The insti­tute did not crit­i­cize the meth­ods or mer­its of the research but ques­tioned whether a plant-based diet where extra vir­gin olive oil is not the main dietary fat should be referred to as a Mediterranean diet.”

The insti­tute added that the omis­sion of other main com­po­nents of the Mediterranean diet, includ­ing sof­fritto, an olive oil-based sauce, and the group­ing of legumes with other veg­eta­bles, fur­ther mod­i­fied the diet.

Our con­cern with this approach is that by using a locally devised score as a sur­ro­gate for the Mediterranean diet, the authors have excluded prin­ci­pal sources of the anti-inflam­ma­tory and antiox­i­dant polyphe­nols found in extra vir­gin olive oil, culi­nary herbs and spices, and legumes,” the insti­tute said.

As a result, the insti­tute’s experts said using the term mod­i­fied Mediterranean diet’ was mis­lead­ing. They empha­sized the role of extra vir­gin olive oil in the diet’s well-stud­ied health ben­e­fits.

Like stud­ies that use the Mediterranean diet score or other ver­sions of a Mediterranean diet that do not include extra vir­gin olive oil, this study shows no improve­ment in health,” the insti­tute said.

It added that extra vir­gin olive oil has a dif­fer­ent fatty acid pro­file and con­tains dif­fer­ent phe­no­lic com­pounds – includ­ing hydrox­y­ty­rosol, oleo­can­thal and oleu­ropein – than other veg­etable or seed oils.

These polyphe­nols resulted in a European Food Safety Authority-cer­ti­fied health claim that says, polyphe­nols pro­tect against lipid per­ox­i­da­tion at a min­i­mal dose of 5 mil­ligrams per kilo­gram per day which is equiv­a­lent to 23 grams of extra vir­gin olive oil.”

The same health ben­e­fits are not asso­ci­ated with olive oil that is not extra vir­gin, nor with veg­etable or seed oils,” the insti­tute added.

Several recent stud­ies have demon­strated the ben­e­fit of fol­low­ing the Mediterranean diet on cog­ni­tion and brain func­tion, espe­cially in older adults.

A 2021 study pub­lished in Clinical Nutrition found that par­tic­i­pants expe­ri­enced small-to-mod­er­ate” improve­ments in sev­eral cog­ni­tive domains after fol­low­ing the Mediterranean diet for three years com­pared with a con­trol group. Improvements included spa­tial, visual and ver­bal mem­ory improve­ments and atten­tion span.

In a 2022 study from Harvard University, researchers found that fol­low­ing a green Mediterranean diet low in red meat intake pro­tected the brain from atten­u­ated age-related brain atro­phy.

One could con­sider that the lack of impact on demen­tia iden­ti­fied in this study could be due to the lack of extra vir­gin olive oil in the mod­i­fied Mediterranean diet used,” the insti­tute said.

Furthermore, and as noted by the authors of the study, the assess­ment of self-reported dietary intake does present cer­tain lim­i­ta­tions due to human recall bias fac­tors, and future stud­ies should aim to include objec­tive bio­mark­ers of dietary intake such as plasma polyphe­nols or nutrige­nomics,” the insti­tute added.

The Olive Wellness Institute con­cluded its response by urg­ing peo­ple curi­ous to learn more about the impacts of fol­low­ing the Mediterranean diet to con­sider all the evi­dence on the sub­ject instead of focus­ing on any sin­gle study.


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