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Olive oil may reduce risk of dementia-related death

  • May 15, 2024
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A recent study, led by Anne-Julie Tessier, a Quebec postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University, revealed that daily consumption of at least half a tablespoon of olive oil could reduce the risk by 28%. mortality linked to major neurocognitive disorder (formerly dementia).

This study, published in the medical journal JAMA Network Open, was based on an analysis of data from two large studies, the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, conducted between 1990 and 2018.

The study also reveals that this reduction in the risk of dementia-related death is even more significant in individuals combining olive oil consumption with a high-quality diet.

“I find this to be a striking result of this study,” comments Anne-Julie Tessier, adding that “In general, people who use olive oil for cooking or as a seasoning have a higher diet. quality but the association was found to be present independently of this factor.

During 28 years of follow-up, the study identified more than 4,750 cases of dementia-related mortality. The results show that daily consumption of at least seven grams of olive oil is associated with this 28% reduction in mortality risk, compared to rare or no consumption, even after adjusting for various lifestyle and socioeconomic factors.

“A higher olive oil intake was associated with a lower risk of dementia-related deaths, regardless of the level of diet quality or regardless of the level of adherence to a Mediterranean diet,” explains Julie. Tessier.

Additional analyzes indicate that replacing five grams of margarine or mayonnaise with an equivalent amount of olive oil could reduce the risk of dementia-related mortality by 8% to 14%. However, no benefits have been observed when olive oil replaces butter or other vegetable oils.

The study authors emphasize that these findings support dietary recommendations for the use of vegetable oils, including olive oil, as a potential strategy for maintaining overall health and preventing dementia.

“Certain antioxidant compounds present in olive oil, particularly in extra-virgin olive oil which is higher in polyphenols (…) can cross the blood-brain barrier and there could be a direct effect in this way on the brain, that’s a hypothesis”, nuance Julie Tessier.

However, it is important to note that this study establishes an association between olive oil consumption and reduced risk of dementia-related death, not causation. Subjects consuming the most olive oil also had better diet quality and other healthy lifestyle behaviors, which could also contribute to reduced dementia risk.

Julie Tessier insists that there is no such thing as a “superfood” and that olive oil should not be seen as a one-size-fits-all solution to preventing dementia.

According to the World Health Organization WHO, more than 55 million people suffer from major neurocognitive disorder (formerly dementia) worldwide, including more than 60% in low- and middle-income countries. Every year there are almost 10 million new cases.

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Ravensley Boisrond