April 24, 2024

Daily Olive Oil Consumption Lowers Risk of Dementia-Related Death: Study

  • A daily dose of olive oil is linked to lower risk of fatal dementia, new research suggests.
  • Researchers recommend using olive oil in place of other fats like mayo or margarine.
  • The benefits of olive oil for brain health may be related to its antioxidant levels and heart-healthy fats. 

Olive oil has long been considered a superfood for heart health, and it could also have a protective effect on the brain, staving off neurological issues like dementia as we age, new research suggests. 

A little more than half a serving of olive oil per day is linked to a significantly lower risk of dying from dementia, according to a large study presented at the 2023 annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition held July 22–25 in Boston.

Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health looked at health data from more than 90,000 American men and women in medical professions that spanned nearly 30 years.

They found that people who consumed more than half a tablespoon of olive oil daily were 28% less likely to die of dementia, compared to peers who rarely or never consumed olive oil. Previous research has suggested a diet high in olive oil may also help prevent cognitive decline in the first place. 

The latest study also found that replacing a teaspoon of margarine or mayo with olive oil on a daily basis was linked to 8% to 14% lower risk of fatal dementia.  

The finding suggests you may benefit from swapping in olive oil to replace other types of fat, including animal-based products processed fats, according to Anne-Julie Tessier, a registered dietitian, co-author of the study and post-doctoral fellow at the T.H. Chan School

“Opting for olive oil, a natural product, instead of fats such as margarine and commercial mayonnaise is a safe choice and may reduce the risk of fatal dementia,” Tessier said in a press release. 

This research is the first of its kind to study whether olive oil may play a role in dementia risk. While participants who included olive oil in their diets tended to eat more healthfully overall, the benefits seems to go beyond overall diet, with data suggesting olive oil may be a unique asset for protecting our brains. 

“Some antioxidant compounds in olive oil can cross the blood-brain barrier, potentially having a direct effect on the brain,” Tessier. “It is also possible that olive oil has an indirect effect on brain health by benefiting cardiovascular health.”

A caveat is that this study is observational, and doesn’t directly show that olive oil causes better health outcomes for dementia, so more research is needed.  

Olive oil is a healthy fat source thanks to antioxidants and healthy fats

The latest study offers even more reason to drizzle olive oil onto your salad or pasta and swap it into your recipes, and previous evidence suggests it’s good for more than just your brain health. 

Extra virgin olive oil in particular is a rich source of antioxidants, plant-based nutrients that can help prevent chronic illnesses like cancer and heart disease. It also contains unsaturated fat, a type of fat which may help manage cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation. 

Other studies have found that a healthy dose of olive oil in your meals can help reduce the risk of dying early. 

Olive oil may be particularly healthy as part of a Mediterranean diet, along with foods like leafy greens, whole grains, legumes, and fatty fish. This eating pattern linked to benefits like lower risk of heart disease and stroke as well as healthier aging. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *