- New research shows that incorporating more olive oil into your diet may lower the risk of dying from dementia.
- Findings showed people who consumed more than half a tablespoon of olive oil per day had a 28% lower risk of dying from dementia compared to those who never or rarely consumed olive oil.
- While we know olive oil offers numerous health benefits, further research is needed to understand specifically how it impacts the brain.
- To incorporate more olive oil into your diet, you can use it as a base for cooking, and an ingredient in dips and salad dressing.
A new study shows that adding more olive oil to your diet may decrease the risk of dementia-related death. The findings were presented at NUTRITION 2023, the flagship meeting of the American Society for Nutrition.
Scientists have been investigating ways to improve dementia symptoms, which include dietary and lifestyle habits.
In the new study, researchers examined dietary questionnaires and death records from more than 90,000 Americans over 30 years. Over the course of three decades, 4,749 people died from dementia.
The findings demonstrated that participants who consumed more than half a tablespoon of olive oil per day had a 28% lower risk of dying from dementia compared to those who never or rarely consumed olive oil.
“Typically, people who use olive oil for cooking or as a dressing have a better overall diet quality, but interestingly, we found the association to be regardless of this factor,” Anne-Julie Tessier, study author and research fellow of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan, told Healthline.
“Our study contributes to supporting current dietary guidelines recommending choosing vegetable oils such as olive oil. And beyond heart health, our findings extend current recommendations to cognitive-related health,” said Tessier.
Additionally, researchers found that switching out one teaspoon of margarine and mayonnaise with olive oil per day was linked to an 8-14% lower risk of dementia-related death.
For the next research steps, Tessier explained that intervention studies are needed to provide insights into the biological mechanisms that explain the potential impact of olive oil on brain health.
“Olive oil is a powerhouse when it comes to flavor and nutrients,” said Mackenzie Burgess, RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist and recipe developer at Cheerful Choices.
“Compared to other vegetable oils, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) contains the highest percentage of monounsaturated fats, which helps reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, colon cancer and cancer,” Dolores Woods, RDN, a nutritionist with UTHealth Houston School of Public Health, stated.
Overall, EVOO is high in antioxidants and fat-soluble vitamins, all of which promote good health and longevity, Woods explained.
“Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and contains compounds with antioxidant activity that may play a protective role for the brain,” Tessier stated. “Some of these 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 we know olive oil offers numerous health benefits, further research is needed to understand specifically how it impacts the brain.
“The exact reasons for this connection between olive oil consumption and brain health are not yet known,” said Dr. Nate Wood, an instructor of medicine and medical education fellow in the section of general internal medicine at the Yale School of Medicine. “It’s possible that the olive oil protects the vessels in the brain just like it protects the vessels in the heart.”
It’s also possible that the antioxidants in olive oil cross into the brain and protect those cells as they do in other parts of the body. More research will be needed to elucidate the exact mechanisms, Wood added.
There are plenty of ways to incorporate olive oil into your daily diet. Burgess recommends the following:
- Cooking oil – Try sauteing veggies or roasting colorful veggies in olive oil.
- Salads – Drizzle olive oil over caprese salads or stir into homemade vinaigrettes.
- Dips – Use high-quality extra virgin olive oil combined with Italian seasoning as a foolproof dip for crusty bread. You can also blend it into homemade bean dips, such as hummus, and serve with crudité.
- Proteins – Use olive as a marinade for meats or incorporate it into other proteins like morning scrambled eggs.
- Baking – Incorporating olive oil into baked goods can add a delightful richness and depth of flavor. Swap out vegetable oils or part of the butter with olive oil in recipes like muffins, cakes, and cookies.
Woods suggests making your own oil-based vinaigrettes. This is a simple vinaigrette that you can also use to marinate chicken or fish:
Also, be sure to choose a good quality, flavorful EVOO to make sauces and spreads, such as chimichurri, pesto, salsa verde or chutney. These are great options to pair with grilled meats, vegetables and as dips.
A gazpacho is the perfect summer appetizer for these hot days. A key ingredient is a bold EVOO to add a punch of flavor.
For a quick meal, toss cooked pasta in a EVOO, lemon zest and grated parmesan cheese.
A new study shows that incorporating more olive oil into your diet may lower the risk of dying from dementia.
Results indicated that participants who had more than half a tablespoon of olive oil per day had a 28% lower risk of dying from dementia compared to those who never or rarely consumed olive oil.
The study also showed that replacing one teaspoon of margarine and mayonnaise with olive oil per day was linked to an 8-14% lower risk of dementia-related death.
Although olive oil provides a wide variety of health benefits, more research is needed to learn its effects on the brain.
To add more olive oil into your diet, you can use it as a base for cooking, and an ingredient in dips and salad dressing.