Scientists from Auburn University and elsewhere found that extra-virgin olive oil could improve brain functions in people with mild cognitive impairment.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a brain disorder that affects memory, thinking, and behavior.
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a condition that often precedes AD, and people with MCI may experience mild problems with memory, language, or decision-making.
Both MCI and AD are associated with a breakdown of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which is a network of blood vessels that protects the brain from harmful substances in the bloodstream.
When the BBB becomes leaky, it can allow harmful substances to enter the brain and cause damage.
Previous studies on mice have shown that extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) can be helpful in improving BBB and memory functions and reducing brain damage related to AD.
EVOO contains biophenols, which are natural compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
To test whether these findings could be translated to humans, researchers conducted a study involving 26 people with MCI.
The participants were split into two groups: one group consumed refined olive oil (ROO) daily, while the other consumed EVOO for six months.
The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess the participants’ BBB permeability and brain function.
They also evaluated the participants’ cognitive function and blood biomarkers related to AD.
The team found that both EVOO and ROO improved clinical dementia ratings and behavioral scores. However, only EVOO reduced BBB permeability and enhanced brain connectivity.
This suggests that the biophenols in EVOO may have contributed to this effect.
The researchers also found that both EVOO and ROO reduced blood biomarkers related to AD, such as amyloid-beta (Aβ) and tau proteins.
This suggests that both types of olive oil may help to clear Aβ from the brain.
Overall, the study suggests that EVOO and ROO could have protective effects against AD and related dementias.
However, further clinical studies are needed to examine this further and determine the optimal dose and duration of olive oil consumption for these effects.
The research was published in Nutrients and was conducted by Amal Kaddoumi et al.
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