Add Olive Oil to Your Shopping List


If you could reduce your likelihood of death from factors related to dementia by 28% by substituting one ingredient in your daily diet, would you make the change?

Dr. Anne-Julie Tessier, a registered dietitian, led a team of researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in a massive review of death records listing fatal dementia as the cause of death. The results of reviewing almost 100,000 patient death records established that those who regularly consumed olive oil in their daily diet, in contrast to those who rarely or never did, were 28% less likely to have a dementia-related death.

Presented as research publication at Nutrition 2023 in Boston this Spring, the annual conference of the American Society of Nutritionists, the finding covered a sampling of patient records over a three-decade period of 60,582 women and 31,801 men. Almost 5,000 of this aggregate died from dementia.

The simple ingestion of half a tablespoon or more of olive oil in one’s daily diet was associated with a statistically significant and compelling reduction in death from fatal dementia. This was a matter of using olive oil rather than margarine or mayonnaise as a spread, condiment, or ingredient for cooking.

Dr. Tessier said of the plant based cooking oil, “Some antioxidant compounds in olive oil can cross the blood-brain barrier, potentially having a direct effect on the brain. It is also possible that olive oil has an indirect effect on brain health by benefiting cardiovascular health.”

A large body of research points to the benefits of a Mediterranean-style diet which includes olive oil, fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains topped off with a disciplined measure of red wine. The obvious foods absent on this list are processed foods laden with preservatives and unhealthy fats for shelf-life.

Mary Poppins’ sing-along that “a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down” can be edited for our health. “A spoon full of olive oil helps our need for medicines go down.”

Well, just add olive oil to your shopping list and make smart substitutions as you cook. Eat for your health to prevent maladies caused by our own poor diets.