Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH) and the Greek Association of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders (GAADRD) announced on Monday the results from a groundbreaking new study on the benefits of early-harvest olive oil.
Their research, undertaken for the first time ever on the specific benefits of the oil made from early-harvested olives, or HP-EH-EVOO, suggests that patients indeed improved from following a diet rich in this oil — even more than from following a traditional Mediterranean diet, which already uses the widely-available extra virgin olive oil, or EVOO.
The recent randomized clinical trials of Greece’s phenolic early harvest extra virgin olive oil studied the benefits which can be gained in those already suffering from mild cognitive impairment, or MCI.
Amnestic MCI, which is characterized by memory loss and inability to execute complex activities of daily living, is usually a precursor of Alzheimer’s disease. At present there is no treatment for MCI — and even with all the medical research in the world that has been focused on Alzheimer’s for some time, there is still no treatment for that malady except for addressing the symptoms of the disease.
Researchers are focusing their efforts, therefore, on the early detection and management of Alzheimer’s by nipping it in the bud as much as possible while patients are still in the MCI stage of its progression.
The Thessaloniki study’s results say that, as expected, the long-term consumption of an EVOO-rich diet, beginning at an early age, does provide a protective effect against Alzheimers and its related disorder, cerebral amyloid angiopathy, or CAA. More long-term intervention with an EVOO-rich Mediterranean diet in 285 participants with a high vascular risk also resulted in better cognitive functioning when compared to a control diet.
First Research in the World on Benefits of High Phenolic Olive Oil
But this was the very first time that there has been research carried out on the benefits of the high-phenolic oil which is produced from the very earliest olive harvest versus oils having moderate amounts of phenols and the already widely-known benefits of following a Mediterranean diet in older people suffering from amnestic mild cognitive impairment.
Scientists say they have now succeeded in making the shift to MCI therapy via robust natural remedies, such as the high-phenolic oil, which can be consumed in order to forestall cognitive deterioration.
In an article published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, the researchers conducted a randomized prospective study to examine the benefits of HP-EH-EVOO and MP-EVOO versus a Mediterranean diet.
In addition, a genetic predisposition (APOE ε4) to Alzheimer’s Disease was also tested and an extensive neuropsychological battery was administered at the beginning of the study and again after twelve months.
Each participant was randomized and assigned to one of three groups: those who received 50 milliliters of HP-EH-EVOO and followed a Mediterranean diet; those who received 50 milliliters of MP-EVOO and followed the same diet; and those who simply followed the Mediterranean diet.
Most people around the world already know and appreciate the benefits of following such a diet, which is in actuality more of a general food-based eating pattern, characterized by local and cultural differences throughout the Mediterranean region. Usually, however, fish, greens and olive oil are staples in this diet.
Recent studies have proposed that more adherence to this type of diet improved cognitive functions, decreased the possibility of developing MCI, and lessened the risk of MCI progression to the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease. In additions, a recent Spanish study just concluded showed that consuming EVOO maintains cognitive function even better than eating nuts.
The Thessaloniki study revealed better follow-up performance in the first group compared to the second and third in almost all cognitive domains. Moreover, the second group also showed significant improvement compared to the third group across all areas studied. In particular, the first and second groups had better outcomes with regard to cognition, digit span and letter fluency.
Benefits Even Those who are Predisposed to Alzheimer’s
Moreover, there was a significant difference in the presence of APOΕ ε4, or the predisposition to developing Alzheimer’s, between the first group and the others. Therefore, the study proved that long-term intervention with HP-EH-EVOO or MP-EVOO was associated with significant improvement in cognitive function compared to just following the Mediterranean diet, whether or not someone was disposed to Alzheimer’s.
Significantly, the study continued to show better performances in the treatment groups compared with the control group in the second assessment, after twelve months of follow-up.
Until today, there had been no other study anywhere in the world which has examined in such a detailed manner the effects of different types of Greek EVOO in elders with MCI as an effective solution for cognitive impairment.