Plant-Based Mediterranean Diet Can Improve Short Term Memory

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Why Key Polyphenol In Olive Oil Could Help Fight Against Alzheimer’s

Updated June 13th 2022

Can Olive Oil Aid Memory Function
Can Olive Oil Aid Memory Function

Choosing a plant-based diet such as The Mediterranean Diet can positively effect your mental function, according to a new study from Birkbeck University in London.

According to researchers, people who eat more meat have worse short-term memory function than fish lovers, or vegetarians and vegans. The more meat you eat, in fact, the worse your short-term memory is likely to be.

As reported in, the study suggested that any amount of meat avoidance may help, with researchers finding that pescatarians, vegetarians, and vegans all exhibited better memory than regular meat-eaters.

The Connection Between Diet, Sleep Quality and Short-Term Memory

The Birkbeck researchers aimed to determine if diet correlated with better sleep quality and also short-term memory. Published in Clinical Nutrition Open Science, the study examined 62 adults over the age of 40 who followed a variety of diets, including vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, omnivorous (with high meat consumption), and omnivorous but with low meat consumption. To properly assess memory functionality, the participants took the California Verbal Learning Test – a common neuropsychological test.

“Adherence to a plant-based rather than a meat-based diet results in improved short-term verbal memory,” lead researcher and Ph.D. Candidate in Neuroscience Pinar Sengul said.

“A vegan diet is associated with superior cardiovascular and cerebrovascular conditions. Mediterranean diets [high fruit and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds and low in red meat] are linked with reduced risk of neurodegenerative diseases and improved performance on cognitive.”

Plant-Based Diets Can Improve Short-Term Memory

The researchers found that diet had a significant impact on short-term memory. Even a modest reduction in meat consumption was shown to improve short-term memory function. During the California Verbal Learning Test, pescatarians received the highest scores. Vegan and vegetarian consumers ranked second highest, and both types of omnivores (those who eat a lot of meat and those who ate less meat) ranked last. The result indicates that red meat and poultry consumption is potentially linked to compromised brain and memory function.

How Can Reducing Meat Help Brain Function?

There are many studies which demonstrate that cutting meat out of your diet can help prevent chronic life-threatening diseases including heart diseasecancer, and diabetes. And more recent studies have also explored whether there is a link between red meat and brain health.

Psychiatric Doctor Ashok Nagella showed that a plant-based diet could lower inflammation in the body and brain, and help reduce stress within the brain, resulting in better moods.

“I agree there’s definitely a connection between mental health and diet,” Nagella said. “I’ve seen it anecdotally in the clinic setting. Also, there’s a significant amount of research to support that and evidence-based research. So based on the research, inflammation of the brain may play a significant role in causing or perpetuating mental illness and neuro-cognitive disorders.”

Oleocanthal For Alzheimer's Disease
Oleocanthal For Alzheimer’s Disease

Oleocanthal – one of the key polyphenols in high quality extra virgin olive oils – could help to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s Disease, according to new research.

Researchers at the University of Louisiana-Monroe have identified the potential benefits of an oral supplement containing Oleocanthal – one of the main polyphenols present in high quality extra virgin olive oils like Morocco Gold.

The latest research, published in Nutrients, investigated the interaction between olecanthal and the complementary peptide C3a receptor 1 (c3AR1), which is also involved in other types of neurogenerative diseases.

Could Polyphenols In Olive Oil Reduce Risks of Alzheimer’s?

Olive Oil For Alzheimers Disease
Olive Oil For Alzheimers Disease

Speaking to the Olive Oil Times, Khalid El Sayed, a pharmaceutical and toxicological sciences professor at the University of Louisiana- Monroe and co-author of the study said:

“The complement system is an important element of the innate immune system, which enhances the antibodies and phagocytic cells to clear damaged cells and pathogenic microbes.  The oleocanthal modulation [regulation] of C3AR1 is a very important finding that will direct future studies of oleocanthal as a plausible nutraceutical for prevention and modulation of pre-Alzheimer’s disease neurodegenerative conditions.”

El Sayed goes on to say that consumption of extra virgin olive oil is understood to have a contribute to reduced risk of cognitive diseases among Mediterranean nations, compared to other European and American populations.

“Oleocanthal has been reported to show promising activities against the markers of neurodegenerative insults that lead to cognitive diseases in vitro and in animal models.”

Full details of the findings and El Sayed’s comments can be found here.

Oleocanthal In Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The importance and uniqueness of Oleocanthal in extra virgin olive oil is that it has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Its anti-inflammatory action on the body is very similar to ibuprofen, one of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs most widely consumed.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen, can be differentiated from steroids because they have far fewer secondary effects. NSAIDS have proven to have very beneficial effects in diseases that involve chronic inflammation processes, such as degenerative and neurodegenerative illnesses (Alzheimer).

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, The Mediterranean Diet And Neurodegenerative Disease

According to News Medical, the U.S. Center, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.

It is estimated to affect approximately 5 million people in the United States alone. The neurodegenerative disease is progressive and cannot yet be cured or reversed. Researchers from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) in Philadelphia, reported that extra virgin olive oil, which is the most common component in the Mediterranean Diet, boosts cognitive performance and could aid in preventing Alzheimer’s. The study involved mice models that have the three components present in Alzheimer’s disease, memory impairment, amyloid plaque build-up and neurofibrillary tangles.

Amyloid plaques are the result of the excess production and build-up of beta-amyloid, a fragment of the protein called “amyloid precursor protein.” In Alzheimer’s disease, these plaques build up in the spaces between neurons.

Neurofibrillary tangles are the result of twisted strands of a protein called tau. In a healthy brain, tau helps with the transportation of nutrients and other molecules that the brain cells need. In Alzheimer’s disease, this protein gets tangled up inside the brain cells, which happen to be dying because essential nutrients no longer reach them.

Alzheimer’s characteristics begin to develop in a rodents quite early on, so in this experiment, the oil was added to the diet when the mice were 6 months old, before any symptoms could have appeared.

The mice were separated into two groups. The first were fed a regular diet including extra virgin olive oil while the second group has no extra virgin olive oil added to their diet. The researchers evaluated the mice’s cognitive abilities by administering tests for their spatial memory, working memory, and learning skills.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Preserves Brain Cell Health

In terms of general appearance, no differences were noted between the two animal groups.

But, when the mice were 9 months and 12 months old, the mice that had been fed the extra-virgin olive oil diet performed much better in the cognitive tests.

Lead investigator Dr. Dominica Praticò and his team also analyzed the brain tissue of these mice, and the studies revealed striking differences between the appearance and functioning of the nerve cells.

Firstly, the integrity of the synapses – which are the parts of the brain cell that facilitate communication among neurons – was preserved much better in the olive oil group. Secondly, the brain tissue in the mice fed olive oil revealed a “dramatic increase” in the autophagy activation of the nerve cells.Autophagy is a process that sees nerve cells disintegrate and eliminate the toxic debris that tends to accumulate between the cells. In this experiment, the increase in autophagy led to a decrease in the amyloid plaques and tau.

Dr. Praticò says, “This is an exciting finding for us. Thanks to the autophagy activation, memory, and synaptic integrity were preserved, and the pathological effects in animals otherwise destined to develop Alzheimer’s disease were significantly reduced. This is a very important discovery, since we suspect that a reduction in autophagy marks the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease.”

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Olive oil must now be the most researched foodstuff available. Thanks to detailed scientific analysis we now know that high quality extra virgin olive oil, rich in polyphenols deliver health benefits including:

Reduced of risk of cardiovascular diseases

Cardiovascular diseases are the top cause of death in the industrialised world. A host of studies have documented that arteriosclerosis is closely linked to eating habits and lifestyle.

Beneficial effect on ulcers and gastritis

Olive oil reduces the risk of the flow or reflux of food and gastric juice up from the stomach to the oesophagus, the gastric content of the stomach is released more slowly and gradually into the duodenum, giving a greater sensation of “fullness”.

Maintains the digestive tract in good health.

Olive oil produces a small amount of secretion by the pancreas, making this organ “work” little, but efficiently and enough to carry out all its digestive functions. It stimulates the absorption of various nutrients (calcium, Iron, magnesium, etc.).

Helps to reduce blood pressure

Certain foods can raise blood pressure besides having an effect on body weight. Along with high blood cholesterol, cigarette smoking, obesity and diabetes, it is one of the main health problems of the developed world. Addition of olive oil to a diet has a clear lowering effect on blood pressure. Regular consumption of olive oil decreases both systolic (maximum) and diastolic (minimum) blood pressure.

Help control healthy cholesterol levels

Cholesterol is a fatty substance contained in foods of animal origin. Diets containing a large amount of animal fats raise blood cholesterol level, which is one of the chief risk factors of cardiovascular disease.

Olive oil lowers the levels of total blood cholesterol, LdL-cholesterol and triglycerides. At the same time it does not alter the levels of HbL-cholesterol (and may even raise them), which plays a protective role and prevents the formation of fatty patches and recurrent heart disease.

Olive oil eases or prevents diabetes

An Olive Oil rich diet is not only a good alternative in the treatment of diabetes, it may also help to prevent or delay the onset of the disease. How it does so is by preventing insulin resistance lowering triglycerides and ensuring better blood sugar level control and lower blood pressure.

Olive oil lessens the severity of osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a reduction in bone tissue mass that increases the risk of fractures. There are two types. Type I occurs in middle-aged, post-menopausal women and type II in the elderly. Olive oil appears to have a favourable effect on bone calcification, and bone mineralisation is better the more olive oil is consumed. It helps calcium absorption, thereby playing an important part during the period of growth and in the prevention of osteoporosis.

Morocco Gold really is the “Gift Of Health” for family and friends – as well as great tasting!!