A recent discovery made public at Nutrition 2023, the yearly gathering of the American Society for Nutrition in Boston, unveils that adding olive oil to your meals can bring various advantages, like safeguarding your heart and boosting cognitive function.
Moreover, a mere spoonful of this Mediterranean staple each day might lower your chances of succumbing to dementia by 28%. Before this study, nobody had ever examined the connection between olive oil and the risk of death related to dementia.
Anne-Julie Tessier, one of the researchers and a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, shared, “Our study reinforces dietary guidelines recommending vegetable oils such as olive oil and suggests that these recommendations not only support heart health but potentially brain health, as well.”
She further said, “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.”
Findings of the study
During a 28-year follow-up period, the researchers observed that regardless of diet quality, those who consumed more than half a tablespoon of this oil daily had a 28% lower risk of dying from dementia compared to those who rarely or never consumed olive oil.
Additionally, the study found that replacing a daily teaspoon of mayonnaise or margarine with the same amount of olive oil was linked to an 8% to 14% lower risk of dementia-related death.
However, it’s essential to exercise caution since this research is still in its early stages, and some experts not involved in the study have advised against drawing firm conclusions just yet.
David Curtis, an honorary professor at the UCL Genetics Institute at University College London, stated, “These findings are simply being reported at a conference and have not undergone peer-review, so there has been no examination of the study by independent experts.”
Advantages of olive oil for dementia
The potential advantages of olive oil for brain health might be attributed to its antioxidant compounds, which can pass through the blood-brain barrier and directly impact the brain, as explained by Tessier.
Additionally, it could indirectly benefit brain health by promoting cardiovascular health, she added.
Although the overall quality of the participants’ diets didn’t seem to affect the results, it’s worth considering that those who consume olive oil may generally lead healthier lifestyles.
“There are many, many differences between people who consume olive oil and those who do not, and it is never possible to fully account for all possible confounding factors,” Curtis emphasized.
Furthermore, it’s essential to note that around half of dementia cases stem from vascular disease, Curtis pointed out. This aspect should also be taken into consideration when interpreting the findings related to olive oil’s potential impact on dementia risk.
According to Curtis, any improvement in cardiovascular health, such as avoiding smoking, is expected to lower the risk of dementia. Given that olive oil consumption has been linked to better cardiovascular health, it follows that it may also be associated with a reduced risk of dementia.
How to incorporate olive oil in your diet?
Olive oil is a key component of the Mediterranean diet, which has demonstrated benefits for various aspects of health, including the brain, heart, and bones.
Apart from using olive oil in cooking, it can also be used to prepare salad dressings, vinaigrettes, mayonnaise, pesto, or as a dip for bread. Additionally, it’s crucial to remember that when it comes to food’s impact on brain function, it’s not just about what we eat but also how we eat.
Remaining socially engaged during mealtimes and dining with others can positively affect our mental well-being in the short term and cognitive function as we age, Mellor suggested.