Using olive oil may help prevent and treat Alzheimer’s Disease according to research published by the Monell Chemical Sense Center, in a study done jointly with Northwestern University.
There were several interesting details in these findings. First, not just any olive oil achieved results. It had to be extra virgin olive oil.
Also interesting was that olive oil has similar anti-inflammatory properties to ibuprofen. Ibuprofen has demonstrated the ability to decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s when used regularly. Presumably this is because there is a strong element of inflammation present in the disease.
Of course ibuprofen has other, unwanted side effects, especially with regular use. This makes it less desirable for preventing Alzheimer’s.
Olive oil, on the other hand, not only doesn’t have such side effects, it has dozens of additional health benefits, including:
- Improving cardiovascular health by reducing the risk of atherosclerosis
- Supporting cell membrane health
- Helping the immune system
- Preventing rheumatoid arthritis
- Lowering LDL cholesterol while raising HDL (good) cholesterol
The specific finding for Alzheimer’s Disease was that olive oil interferes with a highly toxic class of proteins in the brain, called ADDLs. These proteins block healthy nerve function by binding with the nerve synapses. Synapses are the communication gap that allows nerve impulses to be carried from one nerve to another.
And, because current research identifies ADDL binding as the first step down the road to Alzheimer’s, this is great news.
The part of the olive oil that showed this effect is called oleocanthal. Not only did it prevent ADDL binding, it also protected the synapses from structural damage caused by ADDLs.
Researchers indicated that more studies need to be done to determine how this translates into regular use of olive oil for preventing Alzheimer’s. However, given the long history and safety olive oil use, it seems like common sense to include it in cooking and salad dressings right now as part of your brain health program.
Hyperhealth Pro Database, In-Tele-Health, Hansville, WA, 2008.
Oleocanthal May Help Prevent, Treat Alzheimer’s , Monell Center, Philidelphia, PA, 09/29/09.