New research in mice suggests that adopting a diet rich in extra virgin olive oil can prevent the toxic accumulation of the protein tau, which is a hallmark of multiple types of dementia.
Share on PinterestExtra virgin olive oil ‘has many benefits for health.’
Recently, however, several studies have suggested that extra virgin olive oil also has neuroprotective and cognitive benefits.
For instance, a 2012 study in mice found that the oil improves rodents’ learning and performance in memory tests.
The presumed reason for these findings is that extra virgin olive oil is rich in polyphenols. These are powerful antioxidant compounds that may reverse disease- or aging-related learning and memory impairment.
The extra virgin olive oil intervention improved autophagy — that is, brain cells’ ability to eliminate toxic waste — and helped maintain the integrity of the rodents’ synapses, which are the connections between neurons.
Dr. Domenico Praticò — a professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Microbiology and the Center for Translational Medicine at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA — spearheaded that research.
He has recently led a new team in a study of the neurological benefits of extra virgin olive oil. As part of this study, the researchers looked at the oil’s effect on “tauopathies.” These are age-related cognitive conditions wherein the protein tau accumulates to toxic levels in the brain, triggering various forms of dementia.
Dr. Praticò and his colleagues have published their findings in the journal Aging Cell.
Studying the tau protein in mice
The researchers used a mouse model of tauopathy. They genetically tweaked the rodents so that they were prone to accumulate excessive amounts of the otherwise normal protein tau.