Olive oil can lower death risks, including from Alzheimer’s disease

Adding olive oil to your diet can lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer, new research suggests.

The health benefits of olive oil have long been proclaimed – olive oil is packed with healthy fats, nutrients and antioxidants – and it is an important ingredient in the Mediterranean diet. This new research, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American College of Cardiology, suggests the potential of including olive oil in your diet.

The study, led by researchers at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, examined the health and diet of 60,582 women and 3,1801 men in the United States from 1990 to 2018.

During the 28 years studied, those who said they consumed more than half a tablespoon of olive oil daily had a 19% lower risk of all causes of death, as well as a 19% lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those who rarely or had never had olive oil.

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Those who consumed olive oil daily also reduced their risk of death due to neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, by 29%. Researchers also found that the use of olive oil was associated with a 17% lower risk of death due to cancer and an 18% lower risk of death due to respiratory diseases.

Olive oil and Alzheimer’s disease

The association with lower risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease is “a new discovery,” said Dr. Susanna Larsson, an epidemiologist at Uppsala University in Sweden, in an accompanying article entitled “Can small amounts of olive oil keep death away?”

“Given the lack of preventive strategies for Alzheimer’s disease and the high morbidity and mortality associated with this disease, this finding, if confirmed, is of great importance to public health,” Larsson said.

Researchers found that even a small amount of olive oil seemed to have a healthy effect. Having up to a teaspoon daily was associated with a 12% reduced risk of death from all causes, they found.

Replacing three-quarters of a tablespoon of olive oil daily with margarine, butter, mayonnaise and dairy fat was associated with 8% to 34% lower risk of all-cause mortality risk, research found. However, no lower risks were found when comparing olive oil with vegetable oils such as corn oil and rapeseed oil. “This suggests that vegetable oils can provide the same health benefits as olive oil,” Larsson said.

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