Can High-phenolic Olive Oil Improve Brain Function?

Extended Use of High-Phenolic EVOO Improves Cognitive Function

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) affects nearly 20% of people over the age of 65, with patients suffering from decreased memory, thinking, and language skills. While less severe than Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia disorders, patients experiencing MCI are at an increased risk of developing more severe forms of dementia. Yet despite the high prevalence of MCI, there are currently no effective or approved pharmaceutical options for patients with symptoms of MCI. We have previously explored the ability of The Governor’s high-phenolic EVOO to enhance the effectiveness of the commonly prescribed Alzheimer’s drug, Aricept®, in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Now, a recent study conducted in humans has explored the impact of high-phenolic EVOO on MCI. 

The new study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, involved participants aged 60-80 with signs of MCI to compare the effects of high-phenolic and moderate-phenolic EVOO with a Mediterranean diet, a diet rich in olive oil, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish, and low in red meat, dairy, and sugar. Study participants were asked to follow a Mediterranean diet for 1 year supplemented daily by 50 mL (about 3.4 tablespoons) of either high-phenolic early-harvest EVOO (high in compounds such as oleocanthal and oleacein, as well as vitamin E) or moderate-phenolic EVOO (containing lower levels of phenols and no vitamin E). The results of the high-phenolic and moderate-phenolic test groups were compared to participants only given instructions to follow a Mediterranean diet with no supplemental olive oil consumption.

At the end of the study, participants were assessed for attention, visuospatial abilities, abstract thinking, concentration, planning, and language. Results demonstrated that high-phenolic early-harvest EVOO and to a lesser degree, moderate-phenolic EVOO, significantly improved cognitive function compared with a Mediterranean diet alone. The protection conferred by high- and moderate-phenolic EVOO occurred even in participants with a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease (as determined by the presence of the APOE ε4 genetic marker). While this study has demonstrated that long-term consumption of high-phenolic EVOO can improve cognition in elderly patients, longer studies are required to understand if high-phenolic EVOO can lessen the progression from MCI to Alzheimer’s disease.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published