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Extra virgin olive oil may reduce risk of dementia

Cover Media logo Cover Media 2/12/2019
a bowl of fruit sitting on top of a wooden table © Provided by Cover Media

Scientists have discovered a link between extra virgin olive oil and brain function.

A staple of Mediterranean diets, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is considered to be a superfood as it is rich in cell-protecting antioxidants and known for its multiple health benefits, including helping put the brakes on diseases linked to ageing, most notably heart disease.

However, researchers from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University have now reported that EVOO may help to stave off dementia too.

"EVOO has been a part of the human diet for a very long time and has many benefits for health, for reasons that we do not yet fully understand," said senior investigator Dr. Domenico Pratico. "The realisation that EVOO can protect the brain against different forms of dementia gives us an opportunity to learn more about the mechanisms through which it acts to support brain health."

olives and olive oil bottles on table in a rustic kitchen © Getty Images olives and olive oil bottles on table in a rustic kitchen

For the study, the scientists used mice to analyse tauopathies, which are characterised by the gradual build-up of an abnormal form of a protein called tau in the brain. This process leads to a decline in mental function, or dementia.

When the team examined brain tissue from EVOO-fed mice, they found that improved brain function was likely facilitated by healthier synapse function, which in turn was associated with "greater-than-normal levels of a protein known as complexin-1".

Complexin-1 plays a critical role in maintaining healthy synapses.

Olive oil bottle,olive branch and green olives on the table © Getty Images Olive oil bottle,olive branch and green olives on the table

Going forward, Dr. Pratico wants to explore what happens when EVOO is fed to older animals that have begun to develop tau deposits and signs of cognitive decline.

"We are particularly interested in knowing whether EVOO can reverse tau damage and ultimately treat tauopathy in older mice," he added.

Full study results have been published in the journal Aging Cell.

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