The Mediterranean diet, rich in plant-based foods, is associated with a variety of health benefits, including a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.

Now, researchers have identified a specific Mediterranean diet ingredient that protects against cognitive decline – extra-virgin olive oil.

Reduces Alzheimer’s disease markers and inflammation

Researchers found that extra-virgin olive oil reduces the formation of amyloid-beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain – classic markers of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Temple team also identified the mechanisms underlying the protective effects of extra-virgin olive oil.

“We found that olive oil reduces brain inflammation but most importantly activates a process known as autophagy,” explained senior investigator Domenico Praticò, MD.

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Autophagy is the process by which cells break down and clear out intracellular debris and toxins, such as amyloid plaques and tau tangles.

“Brain cells from mice fed diets enriched with extra-virgin olive oil had higher levels of autophagy and reduced levels of amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau,” Dr Praticò.

The latter substance, phosphorylated tau, is responsible for neurofibrillary tangles, which are suspected of contributing to the nerve cell dysfunction in the brain that is responsible for Alzheimer’s memory symptoms.

Source: Temple University Health System via www.sciencedaily.com

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