A Spoonful of This Ingredient Slashes Dementia Risk

New research found that taking a daily spoonful of olive oil may reduce the risk of dementia by 28%.

Previous research has found that people who regularly consume olive oil may have a lower risk of premature death from several health conditions, including heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative disease.

Diets that include plenty of olive oil, such as the MIND and Mediterranean diet, have been linked to fewer amyloid plaques and tau tangles in the brain, which are signs of Alzheimer's disease. Moreover, high-quality diets that deliver optimal nutrition are associated with a lower risk of dementia and other conditions.

However, it's unclear whether olive oil by itself can help ward off dementia.

To learn more, scientists from Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health followed 92,383 adults for 28 years, assessing their olive oil intake and diet quality.

Their findings were presented last July at the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition and published on May 6 in JAMA Network Open.

The researchers found that participants who consumed at least 7 grams — or just over one tablespoon — of olive oil per day were 28% less likely to die from dementia. What’s more, olive oil's dementia benefits appeared to be more significant in women.

This risk reduction remained regardless of diet quality and even after the researchers adjusted the data for APOE ε4 — a significant risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.

While the team found that using olive oil instead of margarine and mayonnaise was tied to a lower risk of dementia-related death, substituting olive oil for butter was not associated with dementia mortality risks.

The researchers believe that olive oil consumption may lower dementia mortality by improving vascular health, reducing inflammation, and easing oxidative stress in the brain.

While the study was observational and participants were mostly non-Hispanic white health professionals, which may limit the findings, the research team says increasing olive oil intake may be a potential strategy to reduce dementia mortality risk and improve cognitive health.

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