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Over half a tablespoon of olive oil per day could slash risk of dementia death

What is dementia?

Whether you add it to your salad dressing or use it for all your cooking, olive oil offers more than its unique flavour.

Research has previously linked the Mediterranean staple to a lower risk of heart disease.

However, a new study, which will be presented at the flagship annual meeting of American Society for Nutrition held July 22–25, also highlighted the oil’s effects on brain health.

Adding just over half a tablespoon of olive oil to your daily diet could slash your risk of dying from dementia by a whopping 28 percent.

As many countries worldwide face rising rates of dementia cases, the study offers hope that healthy lifestyle factors could pose as an effective weapon against the devastating brain conditions.

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Anne-Julie Tessier, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said: “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.

“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.”

This research was the first to investigate the relationship between diet and dementia-related death. 

Looking at dietary questionnaires and death records collected from more than 90,000 Americans over three decades, the research team arrived at their findings.

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The results showed that those who consumed more than half a tablespoon of olive oil per day had a 28 percent lower risk of dying from dementia.

What’s more, replacing just one teaspoon of margarine and mayonnaise with the equivalent amount of olive oil was also associated with a lower risk of dying from the mind-robbing condition.

While the findings showed that people who regularly used olive oil tended to have healthier diets, Tessier noted that the relationship between the cooking oil and dementia mortality risk was independent of overall diet quality. 

This may suggest that olive oil has properties that are uniquely beneficial for brain health.

Tessier said: “Some antioxidant compounds in olive oil can cross the blood-brain barrier, potentially having a direct effect on the brain.

“It is also possible that olive oil has an indirect effect on brain health by benefiting cardiovascular health.”

While the study offers some interesting findings, the research team stressed that it’s only observational and does not prove that olive oil is the cause of the reduced risk of fatal dementia. 

They added that further studies such as randomised controlled trials would be needed to confirm the effects and determine the optimal quantity of olive oil to consume in order to reap these benefits. 

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  • Posted on July 25, 2023