Olive oil may decrease risk of Alzheimer's

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Domenico Praticò, M.D. (Photo: Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University)
Domenico Praticò, M.D. (Photo: Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University)

Extra-virgin olive oil reduced markers for Alzheimer's disease in a recent study.

In the research, olive oil decreased the formation of amyloid-beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, which are common markers for Alzheimer's disease. It decreased these markers by reducing brain inflammation and activating autophagy, a process where cells break down and get rid of intracellular debris and toxins.

“This is a very important discovery, since we suspect that a reduction in autophagy marks the beginning of Alzheimer's disease,” said Domenico Praticò, M.D., a professor in the pharmacology and microbiology departments and the Center for Translational Medicine at Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, Philadelphia.

The research is in the early stages. Studies were performed on a common Alzheimer's disease mouse model. The type of mouse often is used for Alzheimer's studies because the species develops memory impairment, amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.

The mice on the olive oil diet performed better at memory tasks when tested during month nine and month 12. Brain tissue studies also showed the two sets of mice had significant differences in nerve cell appearance and function.

The next step for researchers will be to introduce olive oil into the mouse's diet at 12 months, which will replicate when people seek medical attention after already developing the disease.

The study was published June 21 in Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.

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