So-called ‘Mediterranean diets’ have long been associated with various health benefits. And now new research suggests extra virgin olive oil – a common component of many Mediterranean diets – may protect against certain dementias.
The research in mice revealed that a diet rich in extra virgin olive oil helps prevent a toxic accumulation of the protein tau, which is a hallmark of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
For the research, Dr. Domenico Praticò, a professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Microbiology and the Center for Translational Medicine at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia, led a team to study the neurological benefits of extra virgin olive oil.
During the study, the team looked at the olive oil's effect on "tauopathies." - age-related neurodegenerative disorders characterized by the deposition of abnormal tau protein in the brain – which can lead to the onset of various forms of dementia.
They found that olive oil consumption led to 60% less tau and better cognitive recognition memory performance.
“These results strengthen the [healthful] benefits of [extra virgin olive oil] and further support the therapeutic potential of this natural product not only for [Alzheimer's disease] but also for primary tauopathies,” said Dr. Praticò.
The team’s findings are published in the journal Aging Cell.