Dementia-free longevity in half a tablespoon a day

Time and again, the Mediterranean diet comes out on top for powerful health benefits.

And it’s no wonder. Not only is it chock full of bioactive compounds, but recently researchers found many of those nutrients can, incredibly, cross the blood-brain barrier.

But if one food is the centerpiece of this disease-fighting buffet, it would have to be olive oil.

Not only is it a powerhouse on its own, packed with polyphenols, omega-3 and 6 fatty acids and oleic acid (also known as omega-9 fatty acid), but it enhances the extraction of nutrients from other foods.

Previous research shows olive oil fights agingheart disease and osteoporosis, supports healthy arteries, heals intestinal injury and reduces risks for diabetes and depression. It’s also been linked to reduced mortality from four major health threats.

But it’s the brain benefits that just keep stacking up…

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Olive oil lowers death risk from dementia

Scientists at Harvard University observed more than 92,000 adults over 28 years who were 56 years of age on average at the start of the study. The researchers assessed their diets every four years using a questionnaire and the Alternative Healthy Eating Index, which assigns ratings to foods and nutrients that can predict chronic disease outcomes.

Overall, they found that consuming at least 7 grams of olive oil every day was associated with a 28 percent lower risk of dementia-related death when compared with those who never or rarely ate olive oil. That’s a bit over half a tablespoon of olive oil.

Replacing around 1.2 teaspoons of margarine or mayonnaise with olive oil daily was linked with an 8 to 14 percent lower risk of death from dementia. No significant changes were found when substituting with other vegetable oils or butter.

Participants who had the APOEe4 gene, notorious for raising Alzheimer’s disease risk, were five to nine times more likely than noncarriers to die from dementia. Still, the findings regarding olive oil remained the same even after taking this factor into account.

Another interesting aspect of the study is that these findings stood regardless of the diet quality of the participants, although it could be that those who consume olive oil have healthier lifestyles in general.

The researchers say substituting fats like margarine and mayonnaise with olive oil could potentially improve dementia-free longevity.

“Beyond heart health, the findings extend the current dietary recommendations of choosing olive oil and other vegetable oils for cognitive-related health,” the researchers wrote in the study. They did caution, however, that the findings were observational and did not demonstrate a causal relationship.

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Tips on getting the most from olive oil

Olive oil has many uses. You can cook with it, of course, but it’s delicious when used in a meat marinade, salad dressing, vinaigrette or pesto. You can even drizzle it on sandwiches or mix some up with fresh or dried herbs to make a dip for bread.

When shopping for olive oil, the first thing to look for is whether it’s the extra-virgin variety. Unlike regular olive oil, extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) contains more than 200 antioxidant plant compounds, including polyphenols. This gives EVOO an edge in terms of health benefits.

You’ll also want to buy the freshest EVOO you can find, so look for a brand with the harvest date marked on it. The closer to the purchase date, the fresher the oil is and the more of its aroma, flavor and health benefits it retains.

You don’t need to look for terms like “cold-pressed.” EVOO always comes from the first pressing of the olives, and it must be made with no added heat.

Try to find an EVOO that’s stored in a dark glass bottle or (even better) metal tin. If the EVOO is stored in a clear glass bottle, it will have been exposed to light and lost most of its aroma and flavor.

Once you bring it home, store your EVOO in a cool, dark environment, well away from your stove. Exposure to heat over long periods of time will shorten the shelf life of your EVOO.

Editor’s Note: You’re invited to join a tiny handful of Americans who enjoy rare, fresh-pressed olive oil all year long. Take my word for it, there’s a difference in taste, quality and benefit! Click here to learn more


Mediterranean staple may lower your risk of death from dementia, study finds — CNN

Consumption of Olive Oil and Diet Quality and Risk of Dementia-Related Death — JAMA Network Open

Carolyn Gretton

By Carolyn Gretton

Carolyn Gretton is a freelance writer based in New Haven, CT who specializes in all aspects of health and wellness and is passionate about discovering the latest health breakthroughs and sharing them with others. She has worked with a wide range of companies in the alternative health space and has written for online and print publications like Dow Jones Newswires and the Philadelphia Inquirer.