The Mediterranean diet is a diet that is low in red meat and processed foods and high in fruit, vegetables, and olive oil.
Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, as well as a study done at the University of Louisiana’s College of Pharmacy, shows that oleocanthal, a protective agent that is found in olive oil, has several health benefits that may help to improve cognition and decrease memory loss, including Alzheimer’s disease.
A treasure trove of health benefits has been linked to eating extra-virgin olive oil, including the following:
- Lowered blood pressure
- Improved cognitive function
- Decreased risk of cancer
- Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease
- Decreased levels of LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol)
- Decreased risk of stroke risk
These studies were based on the fact that people who live in Mediterranean countries seem to be less affected by Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is caused when beta-amyloid plaques and tangles accumulate in the brain, affecting cognitive function and memory. People in these countries eat diets that are high in extra-virgin olive oil, fruits, lentils, and vegetables. They eat very little processed carbohydrates, red meat, or sugar, and they moderately eat fish, eggs, low-fat dairy, and have wine with meals.
Through testing mice on a series of mazes, researchers discovered that the mice who ate extra-virgin olive oil, rather than butter or coconut oil, were able to navigate the mazes and showed improved learning and memory functions. These tests showed that adding olive oil to your regular diet can help to improve cognitive functions and can reduce memory loss because it is rich in antioxidants that are thought to help the brain function better.
Always talk to your doctor before you make drastic changes to your diet. For more information on eating a Mediterranean diet, click here.