London – US scientists from Temple University in Philadelphia said the extra-virgin olive oil protects memory and prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Olive oil is considered a main component in the Mediterranean diet that is associated with a variety of health benefits.
In a study published in the “Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology” journal, researchers from Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University said olive oil protects against cognitive decline, which is associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The study showed that extra-virgin olive oil enhances learning ability and reduces the formation of amyloid-beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain — classic markers of Alzheimer’s disease.
The Temple team also identified the mechanisms underlying the protective effects of extra-virgin olive oil.
Domenico Praticò, MD, professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Microbiology and the Center for Translational Medicine at the university revealed: “We found that olive oil reduces brain inflammation but most importantly activates a process known as autophagy.”
Autophagy is the process by which cells break down and clear out intracellular debris and toxins.
“Brain cells from mice fed diets enriched with extra-virgin olive oil had higher levels of autophagy and reduced levels of amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau,” Dr. Praticò added.
Previous studies have suggested that extra-virgin olive oil is better than fruits and vegetables alone, and as a monounsaturated vegetable fat, it is healthier than saturated animal fats.