Olive oil has been associated with protection against cognitive decline that comes with aging, and studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and that the monounsaturated fat in olive oil was mainly responsible for this effect.
Now studies are now showing that it is in fact oleocanthal, a natural compound found in extra virgin olive oil that has antioxidant and antinflammatory action that may have the protective effect.
In Alzheimer’s disease, it is believed that damage to the brain starts when deposits of beta-amyloid protein (Aβ) form plaques in the brain eventually disrupting nerve cell function and leading to the death of these neurons.
In this new study, researchers from the University of Louisiana examined the effect of oleocanthal on the abnormal protein.
By looking at the action of oleocanthal in cultured cells, but also the brains of laboratory animals they found that this olive oil phenol was promoting the production of two other proteins that are believed to play an important role in removing Aβ from the brain.
In their study that was published in Chemical Neuroscience, the researchers concluded that extra-virgin olive oil-derived oleocanthal associated with the consumption of Mediterranean diet has the potential to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease or related neurodegenerative dementias.