Extra Virgin Olive Oil Could Protect Against Alzheimer’s Disease

Apr 02, 2013 11:23 AM EDT | By Jason Pollak (JPollak0288@gmail.com)

Researcher's have noted the beneficial aspects to the Mediterranean diet.

Not only is the plant-based diet cheap, it also extremely healthy. With foods like broccoli, eggplant, nuts and shrimp incorporated into everyday eating, the diet also stresses a cut down on meats such as chicken and beef.

With those beneficial effects in mind, scientists have now found another reason to perhaps switch to a Mediterranean diet.

"Researchers from the University of Louisiana are a step closer to understanding why Alzheimer's disease seems to be not as common in Mediterranean countries, and the possible role olive oil may play in protecting against the memory-robbing disease," The Huffington Post reports.

Previously, scientists had thought the low number of Alzheimer-related cases in Mediterranean countries was due to the high amount of monounsaturated fats in olive oil.

Researchers now believe that a naturally occurring chemical in olive oil called oleocanthal, is responsible for protecting people against the dreaded disease. Previous research, conducted by Amal Kaddoumi, Ph. D, had shown that the oleocanthal compound in extra-virgin olive oil had beneficial effects.

The chemical, "has effects that protect nerve cells from the kind of damage that occurs in AD," reported the research in the medical journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience.

Scientists are studying to see if the chemical could decrease levels of amyloid beta from accumulating in the brain, a main component of Alzheimer's.

"The researchers examined cultured brain cells from laboratory mice, who for two weeks were administered a dose of extracted oleocanthal from extra virgin olive oil twice daily. They found that oleocanthal seemed to increase production of proteins and enzymes necessary to remove amyloid beta from the brain," The Huff Post reports.

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