There is clearly a link between diet and brain health. Numerous studies have shown that a diet low in saturated fat, dairy products and meat but high in fish, vegetables, fruits, cereals and unsaturated fats (such as the Mediterranean diet) may be the best for the brain. Olive oil, a source of unsaturated fat, may be key in such diet. A recent study goes further by linking olive oil and lower risks of strokes.
Olive oil lowers risks of strokes
Participants in the study were 7,625 people from three cities in France, age 65 and older, with no history of stroke. Their olive oil consumption was categorized as “no use,” “moderate use” (such as using olive oil in cooking or as dressing or with bread) and “intensive use” (which included using olive oil for both cooking and as dressing or with bread).
After about five years, 148 strokes were observed among the participants. The risk of stroke was 41% lower for people who regularly used olive oil for both cooking and as dressing compared to those who never used olive oil in their diet (1.5% in six years compared to 2.6%). Importantly, this was observed even after considering other risk factors for stroke such as diet, physical activity, and body mass index.
What is good in olive oil?
Although olive oil has been associated with potentially protective effects against many cardiovascular risk factors (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity), it is not clear which elements of olive oil could be protective. For all we know, it could be that olive oil merely makes other healthy food taste better!
Samieri,C., et al. (2011). Olive oil consumption, plasma oleic acid, and stroke incidence: The Three-City Study. Neurology, 77:418-425.