Olive oil: benefits in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease

Oleocantal is a phenolic compound found in extra virgin olive oil, and scientists have recently discovered that it is associated with reduced risk of Alzheimer’s, a neurodegenerative disorder that is characterized by beta-amyloid accumulation.


However, until recently, the mechanism by which the oleocantal exerted this neuroprotective effect was not fully understood by scientists.


A 2019 study, however, discusses the benefits of extra virgin olive oil, and the researchers say that this substance repairs the function of the blood-brain barrier through complex processes.


Alzheimer’s disease is a complex neurodegenerative disorder, characterized by multiple characteristic features, such as extracellular amyloid plaques, a dysfunctional barrier between the brain and blood (blood brain barrier), neuroinflammation and defective autophagy. So the scientists set out to discover new strategies that target Alzheimer’s disease on several levels, because these strategies are essential to prevent, delay or treat the disease.


More and more scientific evidence (not just from this year’s study) supports the idea that extra virgin olive oil has a protective effect in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, before the onset of pathology.


The researchers tested the effects of consuming extra virgin olive oil, rich in oleocantal, in some models of mice, in advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease, over a period of 3 months of treatment.


Their results demonstrated, in general, that extra virgin olive oil, rich in oleocantal, restored brain-blood barrier function and reduced the pathology associated with Alzheimer’s disease, by reducing neuroinflammation by inhibiting certain mechanisms that contained a particular protein (NLRP3). Therefore, the researchers say, a diet rich in olive oil, which is rich in oleocantal, could provide a beneficial effect to slow or delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.


In laboratory studies conducted by researchers on mouse models, it has been observed that oleocanthane helped transport and eliminate abnormal brain proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease. They wanted to find out, then, whether or not oleocantal might help prevent the accumulation of beta-amyloid, which is thought to be an important factor in Alzheimer’s disease. The results suggest that oleocantal accelerates the production of two key proteins and enzymes that help eliminate beta-amyloid from the brain.


The Mediterranean diet can be an ally for brain health

Researchers in Spain have also suggested that adopting a Mediterranean-style diet, enriched with extra portions of extra virgin olive oil, rich in antioxidants, could help protect cognitive function in older adults.


What other studies indicate about this substance

Oleocantal is the molecule that most studies have been performed on between four of the phenolic compounds found in abundance in olive oil. One of the most important roles of this molecule in humans is that it acts as a neuroprotective agent, so this compound has been rapidly used in studies associated with Alzheimer’s disease.


In addition, extravirgin olive oil contains high concentrations of oleocantal, which may have properties similar to those of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), thus, this oil has also been studied as a treatment for arthritis.


Oleocanth has significant biological effects in many diseases and is involved in various chemical and cellular processes. Scientists say that this compound can protect and prevent against Alzheimer’s disease, that it has a vital role against cancer and that it can act like NSAID-class drugs.

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