Extra virgin olive oil may have positive effects on people with mild cognitive impairment. This is what reveals a recent study conducted by Amal Kaddoumi at the Harrison School of Pharmacy at Auburn University, located in Alabama (USA), which includes Olimerca. Their findings, recently published in the journal Nutrients, suggest that compounds found in olive oil affect brain health and improve the blood-brain barrier. Kaddoumi, a professor in the university’s Department of Drug Discovery and Development, used 25 participants with mild cognitive impairment in her study, which included consuming 30 milliliters, or about three tablespoons, of olive oil a day for six months. Thirteen participants consumed extra virgin olive oil and 12 consumed refined olive oil.

“Participants underwent several tests before and after consuming olive oil, including MRI scans, a battery of cognitive tests, and blood tests for biomarkers related to Alzheimer’s disease,” said Kaddoumi. “Our findings showed that consumption of EVOO and refined oil improved cognitive function as determined by clinical dementia score and other behavioral scores.”

However, adds the professor, “interestingly, the results of the magnetic resonances were not the same between EVOO and the refined oil. While EVOO improved blood-brain barrier function and functional connectivity between different areas of the brain, refining increased brain functional activation to a memory task in brain regions involved in cognition.”

The blood-brain barrier and its permeability are key indicators in their study. The blood-brain barrier, a network of blood vessels and tissues made up of closely spaced cells, plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy brain by protecting it from exposure to blood-related neurotoxins and removing waste products from the brain. A functioning blood-brain barrier is vital for a healthy brain.

“Regarding blood biomarkers, our findings showed that consumption of these oils altered two key biomarkers related to Alzheimer’s disease, suggesting that EVOO and refining altered the processing and removal of beta-amyloid,” said Kaddoumi. “These changes collectively could have played a role in improving the blood-brain barrier and improving function and memory.”

The results are consistent with Kaddoumi’s preclinical findings in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease. The pilot study in people with mild cognitive impairment is the first to look at what happens directly in humans’ brains when they consume olive oil.

“While we need additional studies to understand the mechanisms by which olive oil exerts such effects in humans, findings from our preclinical studies in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease showed that EVOO alleviated several pathological features of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Kaddoomi.