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Oleocanthal, Compound In Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Could Protect Against Alzheimer's Disease

03/31/2013 10:23 am ET

Here’s one more possible benefit of eating 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.

Since previous research had shown that a compound in extra-virgin olive oil called oleocanthal protected nerve cells from the damage that Alzheimer’s inflicts, the scientists led by Amal Kaddoumi set out to see if oleocanthal could decrease levels of amyloid beta -- known to play a role in Alzheimer's -- from accumulating in the brain.

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 new findings are published in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience.

The Mediterranean diet is already known to be heart-healthy and possibly even life-lengthening, so add this newest finding to the list of reasons to eat a diet high in fish, produce and olive oil.

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