Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil in Preventing Cognitive Decline
A new Italian study published January 19, 2018, in the Journal of Translational Medicine, showed that the Mediterranean Diet, especially when extra virgin olive oil is the only fat and oil, may prevent cognitive decline in aging humans. An earlier study on mice showed the benefits of extra virgin olive oil on improving cognitive function and memory in mice that had been generated to have Alzheimer’s disease. However, this new study was on humans, so it is all the more hopeful that lifestyle changes that include proper nutrition may pave the way to preventing Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The Mediterranean Diet – Less Heart Disease and Alzheimer’s
The Mediterranean Diet has been scientifically proven to have cardiovascular benefits and anti-inflammatory properties. It is a fact that in countries where extra virgin olive oil is the only oil or fat in the diet, there is less heart disease and dementia. The Mediterranean Diet also includes more fish than red meat and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. However, the main component in which everything is cooked, baked, fried or used raw on vegetables and salads is the extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil, like Macadamia nuts, is a monounsaturated fat.
The Quality of Food is more Important than the Quantity of Food
The new study was based on the results of a previous study that showed that the quality of food is much more important than the quantity of food. The Italian researchers chose 180 relatively healthy seniors for the study. None of them had ever had heart disease or any other major illnesses. They were divided into two groups. While both were given Mediterranean Diets, one group was given a low dose of extra virgin olive oil and absolutely no other oils or fats in their diet, while the diet of the second group included various vegetable oils. The participants were not restricted as to how many calories they could eat every day and they were free to eat as much they wanted. The researchers evaluated cardiovascular risk factors and the participants in the study underwent two neuropsychological evaluations, the Mini Mental State Examination and the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive sub-scale. After one year, of the remaining 110 seniors out of the original 180 who did not drop out of the study, both groups showed a decrease in the neuropsychological evaluations for Alzheimer’s which shows the very wonderful effects of the Mediterranean Diet. However, the group that was allowed only a low dose of extra virgin olive oil as the sole oil and fat showed an even greater decrease than the group that had consumed various vegetable oils.
Even short-term use of Mediterranean Diet is Beneficial
One of the most important results of this study was that it showed that even one year on the Mediterranean diet can significantly improve cognitive function in seniors.
The Mediterranean Diet can prevent cognitive decline in seniors. However, a Mediterranean Diet with only extra virgin olive oil as the sole fat shows even more protection against dementia and Alzeimer’s disease than a Mediterranean diet that includes various vegetable oils. Since remarkable improvements were seen in seniors after only a short- term one year on the Mediterranean diet, especially those that were on the extra virgin olive oil only Mediterranean diet, this shows that extra virgin olive oil can significantly improve cognitive decline. While more research is expected, families, caregivers and dietitians caring for seniors suffering from memory loss should try putting them on a Mediterranean diet and preferably use only extra virgin olive oil as the main dietary fat.