A new study looking at the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease has examined the effects of extra-virgin olive oil on the cognitive performance and brain health of mice. Carried out by a team of researched from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia, the study suggests that extra-virgin olive oil may help protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.
Dr Domenico Praticò was the lead investigator of the study, and explained why several studies have singled out olive oil for its health benefits. “The thinking is that extra-virgin olive oil is better than fruits and vegetables alone, and as a monounsaturated vegetable fat it is healthier than saturated animal fats,” he says.
The findings, which have been published in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, show that out of those mice who were tested, the mice that had been fed the extra-virgin olive oil performed much better in cognitive tests. What’s more, an analysis of the brain tissue of these mice showed that the integrity and functioning of the nerve cells in the brain was much better.
The next step for researchers is to examine whether the introduction of olive oil into the diet of a patient who already has Alzheimer’s disease has any effect. “Usually when a patient sees a doctor for suspected symptoms of dementia, the disease is already present,” Dr Praticò explains. “We want to know whether olive oil added at a later time point in the diet can stop or reverse the disease.”