American scientists claim the consumption of the dressing defends memory by reducing the formation of toxic plaques and tangles in the brain, hallmarks of Alzheimer's.
Researchers said that those mice that had their diet supplemented with EVOO performed better on cognitive tests and saw stark differences in brain tissue - including fewer amyloid plaques.
Dr. Praticò said that the benefits of Mediterranean diet has been studied previously in details but this is the first time that it was found that rather than the fruits and vegetables component of that diet, it the olive oil that is benefitting the brain health more.
Experts say that research remains to be done to determine whether the use of extra virgin olive oil can stop or reverse the disease in mice - as well as determining whether the findings are applicable to humans.
The study was done in mice engineered to develop brain changes typical of Alzheimer's disease.
Praticò explained that there is a process called autophagy by which the cells break down and clean the toxins and the resultant debris including the amyloid plaques and the tau tangles that are characteristic of Alzheimer's disease.
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The research is published online by the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.
The two groups of mice didn't differ in appearance after months on their respective diets. "What is not clear from the study is how much extra-virgin olive oil the mice were being given to bring about this effect, and we do not know whether the oil could have similar benefits in people".
"Thanks to the autophagy activation, memory and synaptic integrity were preserved, and the pathological effects in animals otherwise destined to develop Alzheimer's disease were significantly reduced", Pratico said.
Researchers from the Pennsylvania university found that mice whose diets were enriched with extra-virgin olive oil improved their memory and ability to learn compared to mice who didn't have the oil in their diets, USA Today reported.
"This is an exciting finding for us", Praticò said. The animals were given the olive oil at a young age, before they began experiencing any symptoms of the debilitating disease.
"Usually when a patient sees a doctor for suspected symptoms of dementia, the disease is already present".
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