PHILADELPHIA — A study shows consuming extra-virgin olive oil can help protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University said mice on a diet enriched with extra virgin olive oil-enriched performed significantly better on tests designed to evaluate working memory, spatial memory, and learning abilities.
The study, published in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, found consuming olive oil reduces the formation of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain — classic markers of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Studies of brain tissue from both groups of mice revealed dramatic differences in nerve cell appearance and function,” Temple University officials said in a statement.
“One thing that stood out immediately was synaptic integrity,” said senior investigator Dr. Domenico Pratico.
The integrity of the connections between neurons, known as synapses, were preserved in animals on the extra-virgin olive oil diet.
Additionally, researchers said mice on the olive oil-enriched diet showed a dramatic increase in nerve cell autophagy activation. Autophagy is the process by which cells break down and clear out debris and toxins that accumulate between cells.
Next, researchers want to find out if consuming extra-virgin olive oil can help reverse cognitive decline in mice that have already developed symptoms.