This Popular Ingredient Lowers Your Risk of Dying from Dementia — and It's Probably in Your Pantry Right Now

Led by Harvard researchers, a new study found consuming olive oil was associated with a lower risk of dementia-related death

<p>Getty Images</p> Stock image of someone pouring olive oil on their Caprese salad

Getty Images

Stock image of someone pouring olive oil on their Caprese salad

Olive oil isn't just a staple for cooking — it may also lower one's risk of dying from dementia.

On Monday, May 6, the JAMA Network published a study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers. They discovered that consuming 7 grams of olive oil per day was associated with "28% lower risk of dementia-related death" when compared to those who rarely or never consumed the product.

"In U.S. adults, higher olive oil intake was associated with a lower risk of dementia-related mortality, irrespective of diet quality. Beyond heart health, the findings extend the current dietary recommendations of choosing olive oil and other vegetable oils for cognitive-related health," the study, titled Consumption of Olive Oil and Diet Quality and Risk of Dementia-Related Death, said.

The report added, "These results suggest that olive oil intake represents a potential strategy to reduce dementia mortality risk."

Related: South Carolina Man with Dementia Goes Missing in Mexico During Royal Caribbean Cruise with Family

<p>Getty Images</p> Stock image of virgin olive oil being poured in a bowl

Getty Images

Stock image of virgin olive oil being poured in a bowl

Over 92,000 participants were observed between 1990 and 2018. During that time, they were asked every four years how often they consumed olive oil and other foods. Over the 28-year study, there were 4,751 "dementia-related deaths."

Participants in the study were health professionals and included over 60,000 women who were part of the Nurses’ Health Study, and almost 32,000 men who from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.

“Our study reinforces dietary guidelines recommending vegetable oils such as olive oil and suggests that these recommendations not only support heart health but potentially brain health, as well,” co-author Anne-Julie Tessier said, per CNN. “Opting for olive oil, a natural product, instead of fats such as margarine and commercial mayonnaise, is a safe choice and may reduce the risk of fatal dementia.”

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In the study, researchers discovered that replacing 5 grams of mayonnaise or margarine with the same amount of olive oil was associated with an 8-14% "lower risk of dementia-related mortality."

It also found that participants with the APOE e4 gene — which according to the National Institute on Aging has been found to be the "strongest risk factor gene for Alzheimer’s disease" — were "5 to 9 times more likely to die with dementia."

<p>Getty Images</p> Olive oil being poured into a Caprese salad

Getty Images

Olive oil being poured into a Caprese salad

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In an email to The Washington Post, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health nutrition professor Marta Guasch-Ferré explained that olive oil is "rich in monounsaturated fats and contains compounds with antioxidant activity that may play a protective role for the brain."

Tessier added that olive oil “may directly benefit the brain by crossing the blood-brain barrier” and may also have positive effects on heart health as well, therefore supporting the brain.

Per the Post, Guasch-Ferré said that “intervention studies are needed to confirm causal associations and optimal quantity of olive oil intake." The study found an association between olive oil consumption and lower risk of dying from dementia, and it did not find a casual relationship.

Researchers also shared with the Post that they couldn't differentiate between which varieties of olive oil were used in the lengthy study.

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