Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Protects Brain Against Alzheimer’s

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Preserves Memory and Protects Brain Against Alzheimer’s Disease, New Research at Temple Shows – Jun 2017 – Source Newsroom: Temple University

The Mediterranean diet, rich in plant-based foods, is associated with a variety of health benefits, including a lower incidence of dementia.

Now, researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) have identified a specific ingredient that protects against cognitive decline: extra-virgin olive oil, a major component of the Mediterranean diet. 

In a study published online June 21 in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, the researchers show that the consumption of extra-virgin olive oil protects memory and learning ability and reduces the formation of amyloid-beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain – classic markers of Alzheimer’s disease.  

“We found that olive oil reduces brain inflammation but most importantly activates a process known as autophagy,

Autophagy is the process by which cells break down and clear out intracellular debris and toxins, such as amyloid plaques and tau tangles.

“Brain cells from mice fed diets enriched with extra-virgin olive oil had higher levels of autophagy and reduced levels of amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau,” Dr. Praticò said.

The latter substance, phosphorylated tau, is responsible for neurofibrillary tangles, which are suspected of contributing to the nerve cell dysfunction in the brain that is responsible for Alzheimer’s memory symptoms.

Previous studies have suggested that the widespread use of extra-virgin olive oil in the diets of people living in the Mediterranean areas is largely responsible for the many health benefits linked to the Mediterranean diet.

In order to investigate the relationship between extra-virgin olive oil and dementia, Dr. Praticò and colleagues used a well-established Alzheimer’s disease mouse model.

Known as a triple transgenic model, the animals develop three key characteristics of the disease: memory impairment, amyloid plagues, and neurofibrillary tangles.

The researchers divided the animals into two groups,

  1. one that received a chow diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil and 
  2. one that received the regular chow diet without it.

In overall appearance, there was no difference between the two groups of animals.

However, at age 9 months and 12 months, mice on the extra virgin olive oil-enriched diet performed significantly better on tests designed to evaluate working memory, spatial memory, and learning abilities.

Studies of brain tissue from both groups of mice revealed dramatic differences in nerve cell appearance and function.

“One thing that stood out immediately was synaptic integrity,” Dr. Praticò said.

The integrity of the connections between neurons, known as synapses, were preserved in animals on the extra-virgin olive oil diet.

In addition, compared to mice on a regular diet, brain cells from animals in the olive oil group showed a dramatic increase in nerve cell autophagy activation, which was ultimately responsible for the reduction in levels of amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau.


5 thoughts on “Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Protects Brain Against Alzheimer’s

  1. Tabitha

    Good report, and good news for sure.
    What their report does not show is whether for instance, in the arctic, if whale blubber (animal based oil/fat) or provides the same effect therapeutic effect in the Eskimo diet, or whether fish oil in the Asian diets, or if nut oils (plant-based oil) provide the same elsewhere.
    Oil versus no oil does not prove Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is the only plant-based oil to offer the benefits described, but EVOO is perhaps the most widely available.
    The simplicity of the test though is refreshing and the results are clear. Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      Those are all excellent questions. I’ve often wondered about the Eskimo diet of without plant material.

      I expect that their digestive systems and metabolism has adapted to handle it, but I’m surprised they can get all they need from only animal products.


  2. Emily Raven

    Wish it didn’t make me hurl now a days. Guess I’ll just hope peanut and coconut oil also have at least some benefits. As I understand it olive oil in particular for Alzheimer’s protects against a certain type of protein building up in the brain called ADDL. Not sure if other oils protect against it but good fats are always helpful to brain tissue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      My body seems to love butter – maybe because I’m Northern European and grew up with a lot of milk products. I wonder if we aren’t all designed for the particular diets our ancestors ate for generations, back when diet was still controlled by what grew where you lived, before we all changed locations so much and became so unrooted.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Emily Raven

        I have no issues with butter at all either. Oddly I’m part Italian too with the Nordic European and never had a problem with it in the past (I think it’s just part of the GI issues that come with EDS and POTS… My body doesn’t like alot of foods that are thought of as “gentle” such as plain rice) I’ve always wondered about that too. Tabitha mentioned the Eskimos who still eat what they ate before modernization (in many areas anyway) and they’re still very healthy comparatively. Would be interesting if some in depth research was done once all our genes are mapped and identified.

        Liked by 1 person


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