Olive oil is good for the brain, according to a new study.
People who regularly use the trendy drizzle in their cooking are 28 percent less likely to die from dementia, suggest the findings.
Olive oil is commonly used for frying food or as a salad dressing and is a favorite of TV chefs including Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver.
The new study suggests that incorporating half a tablespoon of the Mediterranean favorite into your daily diet could help reduce the risk of fatal dementia.
With rates of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia rising around the world, the study offers hope that healthy lifestyle factors – such as diet – can help to prevent or slow the progression of the debilitating conditions.
Study leader Dr. Anne-Julie Tessier 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.”
The study is the first to investigate the relationship between diet and dementia-related death.
Researchers analyzed dietary questionnaires and death records collected from more than 90,000 Americans over three decades, during which 4,749 participants died from dementia.
The results indicated that people who consumed more than half a tablespoon of olive oil per day had a 28 percent lower risk of dying from dementia compared with those who never or rarely consumed it.
And replacing just one teaspoon of margarine and mayonnaise with the equivalent amount of olive oil per day was associated with an eight to 14 percent lower risk of dying from dementia.
Previous research suggests that people who regularly use olive oil instead of processed or animal fats tend to have healthier diets overall.
However, Dr. Tessier noted that the relationship between olive oil and dying from dementia in the study was independent of overall diet quality.
She said this may suggest that olive oil has properties that are uniquely beneficial for brain health.
“It is also possible that olive oil has an indirect effect on brain health by benefiting cardiovascular health.”
Previous studies have linked higher olive oil intake with a lower risk of heart disease.
Incorporating olive oil as part of a Mediterranean dietary pattern has also been shown to help protect against cognitive decline.
Dr. Tessier cautioned that the research is observational and does not prove that olive oil is the cause of the reduced risk of fatal dementia.
She said additional studies would be needed to confirm the effects and determine the optimal quantity of olive oil to consume in order to reap the benefits.
Dr. Tessier presented the findings at Nutrition 2023, the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition in Boston, Massachusetts.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker