American researchers have recently discovered that a diet rich with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) – a key component of the Mediterranean Diet – can help forestall off memory loss and cognitive decline, protecting the brain from related conditions such as:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Memory loss
Extra Virgin Olive Oil could in fact be considered as a viable therapeutic opportunity for preventing or halting Alzheimer’s disease.
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 case study 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.
In addition, the study aimed to investigate the effect that daily consumption of Extra Virgin Olive Oil has on the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease by investigating its essential impact on an Alzheimer’s disease such as phenotype discovered in modified mice.
While recent studies have found that the phenolic compounds and antioxidant qualities of Extra Virgin Olive Oil can indeed help protect against both disease-related and age-associated brain oxidation in mice, furthermore, 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 showcase the three main characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease, which are:
- Memory impairment
- Amyloid plaque buildup
- And neurofibrillary tangles
Amyloid plaque buildup happens when a fragment of a protein is developed 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 Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the Apulia region of Italy; an olive oil chosen for its adherence to the stringent quality criteria required by researchers.
After a six-month period, the mice were put through an assortment of cognitive performance tests.
As a result, researchers discovered that the mice on the Extra Virgin Olive Oil rich diet displayed restored working and spatial memory in comparison to their baseline performance. Upon examination, it was also discovered that the brains of the mice on the Extra Virgin Olive Oil-rich diet had decreased peptide levels and deposits drastically.
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 easily and positively demonstrated that EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) 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 crucially the biological rationale to the hypothesis that Extra Virgin Olive Oil could be considered as a viable therapeutic opportunity for preventing or halting Alzheimer’s disease.”