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Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Can It Reduce the Risk of Dementia?

By May 10, 2024Kahn Longevity Center
extra virgin olive oil
Although heart disease takes many more lives than dementia, people search for advice on avoiding dementia and express fear over developing dementia more frequently than efforts to prevent heart disease. Clues to delaying and preventing dementia are needed and diet may play a role. Can extra-virgin olive oil in the diet have a role in preventing dementia? A new study is hopeful this is true.

STUDY

A prospective cohort study examined data from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS). The population included women from the NHS and men from the HPFS who were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer at baseline.

OLIVE OIL INTAKE Olive oil intake was assessed every 4 years using a food frequency questionnaire and categorized as (1) never or less than once per month, (2) greater than 0 to less than or equal to 4.5 g/d, (3) greater than 4.5 g/d to less than or equal to 7 g/d, and (4) greater than 7 g/d. Diet quality was based on the Alternative Healthy Eating Index and Mediterranean Diet score. Dementia death was ascertained from death records.

RESULTS

Of 92,383 participants, 60,582 (66%) were women and the mean age was 56 years. During 28 years of follow-up, 4751 dementia-related deaths occurred.

Individuals who were homozygous for the apolipoprotein ε4 (APOE ε4) allele were 5 to 9 times more likely to die with dementia.

Consuming at least 7 g/d of olive oil was associated with a 28% lower risk of dementia-related death compared with never or rarely consuming olive oil.

In a model, replacing 5 g/d of margarine and mayonnaise with the equivalent amount of olive oil was associated with an 8% lower risk of dementia mortality. Substitutions for other vegetable oils or butter were not significant.

CONCLUSIONS


In US adults, higher olive oil intake was associated with a lower risk of dementia-related mortality, irrespective of diet quality. Beyond heart health, the findings extend the current dietary recommendations of choosing olive oil and other vegetable oils for cognitive-related health.

Olive oil contains high levels of so-called healthy fats — monounsaturated fatty acids — along with vitamin E and polyphenols which are plant-based compounds that can help protect the body from type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. They also aid digestion and support brain health.

The higher concentration of monounsaturated fats and polyphenols, a potent antioxidant, make olive oil extremely beneficial for neurological health.

Olive oil prices have spiked recently due to climate-related supply concerns, but you still should be cautious about what type of oil you buy; extra-virgin or cold-pressed organic varieties are best. My personal choice is www.rallisoliveoil.com .

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