Regular Consumption of Olive Oil Reduces Risk of Dementia related Death: Harvard Study

Olive Oil

Regardless of the quality of one’s overall diet, consuming olive oil may help lower the chance of dying from dementia, according to a recent study of adult Americans.
The study’s findings, which were carried out at Boston’s Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, were released in JAMA Network Open on Monday.

Since the majority of prior research on the relationship between olive oil consumption and cognition was conducted in Mediterranean nations, the researchers reasoned that examining the impact of this healthy fat source on Americans, whose consumption of olive oil is often lower, could provide new insights.

“Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and contains compounds with antioxidant activity that may play a protective role for the brain,” said the study’s lead author, Anne-Julie Tessier, a registered dietitian and research associate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Tessier, a human nutrition doctorate holder, stated that olive oil “appears to have a beneficial effect against cognitive decline” in a Mediterranean diet. “Higher olive oil intake was previously associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality, but its association with dementia mortality was unknown.”

The majority of dementia types have a gradual beginning and sluggish progression. Because these cases arise slowly, Tessier pointed out that researchers find it difficult to investigate dementia-related death. Nonetheless, 92,383 participants with an average age of 56.4, including 60,582 women (65.6%), could be evaluated by researchers during this study.

They took data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which covered the years 1990 to 2018. Men and women in the population were free of cancer and cardiovascular disease at baseline. Researchers used a meal frequency questionnaire every four years to assess olive oil intake. Never or less than once per month, greater than 0 to less than or equal to 4.5 grams per day, greater than 4.5 grams per day to less than or equal to 7 grams per day, and greater than 7 grams per day were the categories they used to classify intake.

Over the course of a 28-year follow-up, 4,751 deaths were attributable to dementia. The study found that the risk gene for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, apolipoprotein ε4 (APOE ε4), was inherited from both parents and was associated with a five to nine-fold increased risk of dementia-related death. In contrast, individuals who took half a tablespoon, or at least 7 grams, of olive oil daily exhibited a 28% reduced risk of dementia-related mortality when compared to those who ingested olive oil infrequently or never. Once the researchers corrected for APOE ε4, the results remained unchanged.

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