Daily consumption of about a half a tablespoon of olive oil could lower the risk of fatal dementia, according to a new study. For long olive oil has been linked to healthy eating, from using it as a cooking oil to salad dressings. Now, new research adds weight to its unique benefits.
Dementia refers to conditions that impair thinking or memory, affecting people’s quality of life and daily activities. Alzheimer’s, a progressive and fatal, is the most common form of dementia.
For the study, researchers examined over 90,000 Americans’ diets and death records. The participants’ diet and diet quality were examined every four years for 28 years. The findings presented at Nutrition 2023 showed that there was a 28% lower dementia death risk in those who consumed more than half a tablespoon of olive oil daily, according to Neuroscience News.
This relationship was regardless of diet quality, indicating that olive oil may have unique properties that benefit brain health. “Some antioxidant compounds in olive oil can cross the blood-brain barrier, potentially having a direct effect on the brain,” Anne-Julie Tessier, one of the study authors, said in a press statement.
Notably, the study results showed that replacing margarine and mayonnaise with an equivalent amount of olive oil was associated with an 8% to 12% lower risk for fatal dementia, according to News Medical Today. However, butter or other vegetable oils did not show a significant association.
“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,” Tessier said in a press release. According to the researchers choosing olive oil over fats such as margarine and commercial mayonnaise is a safe choice and may reduce the risk of fatal dementia, according to News Medical Today.
A 2017 study also linked olive oil to brain health. Researchers from Temple University Health System showed that extra-virgin olive oil protects memory and learning ability as well as decreases the formation of amyloid-beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain, which are the classic markers of Alzheimer's disease, according to a press release.