With a rich and strong flavour, Olive oil has its fans and some hates.In one study, scientists at the University of Louisiana College of Pharmacy tested a component of olive oil called oleocanthal on the brains of mice that had been bred to develop a disease resembling Alzheimer’s in people. The substance, they found, appears to help speed up the removal of beta-amyloid, the toxic protein that builds up in the brains of Alzheimer’s victims, forming gummy plaques. Oleocanthal is present in olive oil.
German researchers recruited 120 healthy volunteers and had them eat yogurt every day for three months. Unknowingly, some ate yogurt laced with butter, lard, olive oil or canola oil, another heart-healthy fat. They found that unlike the other groups, those eating the yogurt containing olive oil tended to eat fewer calories the rest of the day and did not gain weight.
The findings may help to explain why a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, along with fruits and vegetables and modest amounts of red wine, may help to promote good health. Other studies have shown that keeping weight down in middle age lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s in old age.
Many factors may contribute to problems with thinking and memory in old age. Food and diet is likely just one contributing factor. But a growing body of evidence that people who follow a Mediterranean diet may lower their risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, as well as heart attacks, strokes and other illnesses as well.