The Italian Longitudinal Study on Aging, showed that the monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid) are responsible for better cognitive functioning for older people who follow the Mediterranean diet.
Another research conducted in Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, one of America’s Best Hospitals, reveals that dietary fats effect cognitive function. Scientists evaluated 6,000 women over 60 years old. The participating individuals answered questions in detail about food consumption before, during and after the study.
The results revealed that women who consumed high amounts of saturated fats (red meat and butter) had the worst memory. Women who consumed monounsaturated fats had better memory.
The researchers pointed out that prevention of cognitive decline is essential in older people, because even small declines, result in the development of very serious problems, like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Substitution of butter with olive oil is a small modification that would be very beneficial to brain health.
Researchers used olive oil in animal studies to see if it had any possitive effects on their brain. They used mice to find out if olive oil would reverse direction on oxidative harm in the brain. The researchers reported that mice with olive oil in their diet, improved their learning and memory and mice without olive oil in their diet developed abnormalities in learning and memory.
Declining in learning and memory is connected to aging. It is also connected to over productivity of amyloid beta protein which is Alzheimer’s.
Scientists believe that in the Southern European countries, where the Mediterranean diet is consumed, the incident of neurodegenerative diseases is lower than any other country. The hydroxytyrosol which is a phenolic compount in extra virgin olive oil (the key polyphenol) contributes considerably in the Mediterranean diet and in brain health.
In the Archives of Neurology was published that the Mediterranean diet and any diet that is rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, lean proteins and olive oil, protect against damage in the brain. Small damage in the blood vessels in the brain, results in silent strokes that effect brain performance.
Magnetic Resonance Imagine (MRI) shows White Matter Hyperintensities (WMH) which are markers of chronic small vessel damage and can be seen in normally aging people. WMH are also connected with smoking, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
In the University of Columbia and the University of Miami, researchers evaluated diets and came to the conclusion that the participants in diets rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid in olive oil) had lower WMH.
The consumption of olive oil is very important for prevention of small vessel damage in the brain, than any compound.
Olive oil rich in antioxidants is associated with better cognitive performance and verbal memory.