Summary: The peppery sensation you feel in the back of your throat when tasting Extra Virgin Olive Oil is believed to be caused by the polyphenol Oleocanthal. Oleocanthal, present in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Previously, Extra Virgin Olive Oil has been shown to improve cognitive function, and protect against memory loss. Numerous studies have shown that the Mediterranean Diet appears to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and it has been theorized that the monounsaturated fat in Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) was responsible for this observation.
Now, in a new study from the University of Louisiana and published in “Chemical Neuroscience”, it is suggested that one of EVOO’s polyphenols “oleocanthal’ may promote the production of proteins that plays a role in removing neuron damaging plaques in the brain.
Oleocanthal is one of several polyphenols found in EVOO. Oleocanthal has been shown to have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Remember, it will not be present in olive oil/pure olive oil, where the chemical refining process removes all of the natural phenolic compounds. It is the Oleocanthal in Extra Virgin Olive Oil that is believed to be responsible for the peppery /burning sensation that occurs in the back of the throat when sample tasting The Olive Tap EVOO’s.
With Alzheimer’s disease, damage to the brain begins when beta-amyloid protein forms plaques in the brain. Over time, these proteins disrupt nerve cell function and leads to the destruction of these neurons. The researchers found that oleocanthal promoted the production of two other proteins that are believed to play an important role in removing beta-amyloid proteins from the brain.
The researchers concluded that “extra-virgin olive oil-derived oleocanthal associated with the consumption of Mediterranean diet has the potential to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease or related neurodegenerative dementias.”
In another sturdy, by Dr. Emili Ros, and published in The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, it was suggested that consumption of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, along with other foods rich in antioxidant polyphenols, may improve cognitive function and prevent neurodegenerative diseases. Polyphenols are known to be powerful antioxidants which may help to reverse oxidative damage that occurs in the aging process. This damage is thought to be a causative factor for the development of many lifestyle diseases including, heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. According to the results, it appears that the consumption of olive oil was associated with better scores in verbal memory tests, while a higher intake of nuts and moderate wine consumption were found to have a positive effect on overall cognitive function.
Sources: Olive Oil May Help Prevent Neurodegenerative Diseases, Naomi Tupper, Olive Oil Times