Following a diet rich in olive oil may prevent dementia and boost brain health, according to a new study presented at NUTRITION 2023, an annual meeting for the American Society for Nutrition.
Cooking or preparing foods with olive oil may be beneficial, advise scientists, who say the ingredient is much better than other products. This study is the first to look at how diet impacts dementia-related fatalities.
By using dietary questionnaires and death records from 90,000 Americans, the scientists looked for links that could offer concrete answers.
"Our study reinforces dietary guidelines recommending vegetable oils such as olive oil and suggests that these recommendations not only support heart health but potentially brain health, as well," says Anne-Julie Tessier, RD, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "Opting for olive oil, a natural product, instead of fats such as margarine and commercial mayonnaise is a safe choice and may reduce the risk of fatal dementia."
People who suffer from dementia may struggle with basic memory or everyday activities. Alzheimer's, which impacts 5.7 million Americans, is a form of dementia that is fatal. The study results show that people who ingested half a tablespoon of olive oil per day had a 28% lower risk of dying from dementia.
In fact, scientists found that if someone replaced margarine or mayonnaise with olive oil, they had an 8% to 14% lower chance of dying from dementia.
Why do scientists think this link lowers the risk of dying from dementia? People who eat olive oil regularly tend to be healthier overall and eat less processed food. Olive oil also has antioxidant compounds that could benefit the brain as well as benefit cardiovascular health, too.
Older studies have found a link between consuming olive oil in your diet and a lower risk of heart disease, which is another reason why the Mediterranean diet is said to be the healthiest diet.
Scientists must do more research to confirm how much or how little a person should consume in order to see benefits from olive oil, but it may make you think next time you reach for the margarine.