Why Polyphenols In Olive Oil Support Brain Health

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New Study Links Mediterranean Diet And Olive Oil To Reduced Dementia Risk

Updated 16th August 2022

Reduced Risk Stroke From Plant Based Diet
Mediterranean Diet And Brain Health

Olive oil and The Mediterranean diet are good for brain health. The oleocanthal in olive oil has anti-inflammatory properties that protect the brain from inflammation. The polyphenols in olive oil also help to reduce oxidative stress and improve blood flow to the brain. The Mediterranean diet is rich in olive oil, as well as healthy fats, vegetables, and whole grains. Studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet can help to improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of dementia.

Olive Oil Tops Best Food For The Brain List

Olive Oil has topped a new list of the top foods to protect your brain. The report from The Daily Star lists olive oil as first in a list of 14 foods which can help keep your brain healthy and can improve specific mental tasks such as memory and concentration. It says:

“The powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols that are found in the oil, including EVOO in your diet may not only improve learning and memory, but also reverse the age- and disease-related changes. The oil also helps fight against ADDLs, proteins that are toxic to the brain and induce Alzheimer’s.”

The Daily Star

Why Polyphenols Boost Brain Health

Polyphenols are a type of micronutrient found in many fruits and vegetables. They have numerous health benefits, including the promotion of brain health. Polyphenols help to protect the brain from damage caused by free radicals, and they also help to improve blood flow and reduce inflammation. Additionally, polyphenols have been shown to improve cognitive function and decrease the risk of age-related cognitive decline. Because of their many potential benefits, polyphenols are an important part of a healthy diet. Including plenty of polyphenol-rich foods in your diet may help to keep your brain healthy and functioning at its best.

Studies Link Mediterranean Foods With Reduced Dementia Risk

There is already growing evidence to show that following a Mediterranean Diet, rich in vegetables, nuts, grains, fish and quality extra virgin olive oils like Morocco Gold can boost your brain health significantly.

But a new study, conducted by The University of South Australia and Swinburne University – the first of its kind beginning this month – will explore the health benefits to older adults of following a Mediterranean Diet in combination with a daily burst of exercise.  

The two-year study – entitled MedWalk will follow 364 Australians aged between 60 and 90 years of age. It will seek to discover if there are significant increases in the benefits to brain health of combining Mediterranean nutrition with daily exercise.

Lead UniSA researcher, Associate Professor Karen Murphy, says combining the dietary benefits of the Mediterranean Diet with the health benefits of an exercise intervention could deliver significant benefits.

“While there is currently no prevention or cure for dementia, there is growing consensus that a focus on risk reduction can have positive outcomes. That’s where our study comes in.

“Early pilots of our MedWalk intervention show improved memory and thinking in a sub-group of older participants adhering to a combination of Mediterranean diet and daily walking for six months. 

“We’re now extending this study across a broader group of older Australians, using carefully-designed behavioural change and maintenance strategies in the hope of substantially reducing the incidence of dementia across Australia.”

The timing of the study is particularly significant as Australia – and many other countries across the globe – are experiencing an ageing population.

Head of Neurocognitive Ageing Research at Swinburne’s Centre for Human Psychopharmacology and Chief Investigator, Professor Andrew Pipingas, says this trial is about trying to prevent the onset of dementia.

“As it’s extremely difficult to find a cure and treat those in the later stages of the disease, focusing our efforts on helping those at risk of developing dementia to stay healthy is one-way to ensure Australians stay well in future.” 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, The Mediterranean Diet And Brain Health

Extra Virgin Olive Oil And The Mediterranean Diet
Extra Virgin Olive Oil And The Mediterranean Diet

The MedWalk study may build on the strength of previous findings which state that people who eat a Mediterranean-style diet  – known to include fish, leafy vegetables and extra virgin olive oil – increase their chances of better cognitive function later in life.

Scientific research in March from Edinburgh University, has shown that consuming lower amounts of read meat and following the principles of Mediterranean cuisine correlated with higher scores in memory and thinking tests in the over 70s.

Extra virgin olive oil is a key component of the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil and nuts.

These latest findings suggest that this primarily plant-based diet may have benefits for cognitive function as we get older.

Researchers involved in the study tested the thinking skills of more than 500 people aged 79 and without dementia. The participants completed tests of problem solving, thinking speed, memory and word knowledge, as well as a questionnaire about their eating habits during the previous year.

More than 350 of the group also underwent a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scan to gain insights into their brain structure.   The team used statistical models to look for associations between a person’s diet and their thinking skills and brain health in later life. 

The findings show that, in general, people who most closely adhered to a Mediterranean diet had the highest cognitive function scores, even when accounting for other factors, including childhood IQ, smoking, physical activity and health factors.

Dr Janie Corley, from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, said: “Eating more green leafy vegetables and cutting down on red meat might be two key food elements that contribute to the benefits of the Mediterranean-style diet

A new study, published this month by The American Academy of Neurology, has found that adherence to the principles of The Mediterranean Diet (rich in extra virgin olive oil) may reduce your chance of developing memory loss and Dementia.

Study author Tommaso Ballarini, Ph.D. explained that “Eating a diet that’s high in unsaturated fats like extra virgin olive oil, fish, fruits and vegetables and low in red meat and dairy may actually protect your brain from the protein build-up that can lead to memory loss and dementia.”

Quality extra virgin olive oil such as Morocco Gold, are one of the primary sources of healthy unsaturated fats in The Mediterranean Diet.

Take steps to protect your cognitive health with a new harvest bottle of Morocco Gold

The study, which was published in the May 5 2021 issue of Neurology, states that the Mediterranean diet can help prevent brain-volume shrinkage that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

This diet traditionally consists primarily of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grain foods, seafood, extra virgin olive oil and wine in moderation.

Dietitian at Cleveland Clinic Kristin Kirkpatrick told Medical News Today that this diet contributes beneficial “omega-3 fatty acids, polyphenols, specific minerals, fiber, and protein”  that “may support the brain’s health and protection throughout the years.”