Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Brain Health: Key Insights

Recent research suggests that extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) improves brain health and strengthens the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in people with mild cognitive impairment.

Key Findings from a Recent Study

A journal called Nutrients recently published a pilot study. It shows that a six-month EVOO regimen can enhance BBB integrity and boost brain connectivity. The research also hints at potential benefits for markers of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Expert Commentary

Amal Kaddoumi, a professor at Auburn University’s Harrison College of Pharmacy, commented, “These findings are promising but preliminary. We need more comprehensive research to confirm olive oil’s positive effects on brain function.”

Previous Studies and New Insights

Past research has highlighted EVOO’s positive impact on cognitive health in both mice and humans. Kaddoumi added, “Our study is groundbreaking because it focuses on the brain’s direct response to EVOO.”

Blood-Brain Barrier and Cognitive Health

A decline in BBB functionality often accompanies mild cognitive impairment and early Alzheimer’s stages. This decline can lead to abnormal BBB permeability, which may contribute to dementia.

Study Design and Outcomes

The study engaged 25 participants with mild cognitive impairment. It evaluated the daily effects of EVOO and refined olive oil over six months. Researchers found that EVOO improved clinical dementia ratings and behavioral scores. It also reduced BBB permeability and increased brain functional connectivity.

Unexpected Results with Refined Olive Oil

Refined olive oil also showed promise. Kaddoumi noted, “We initially used refined olive oil as a control group but found it positively impacted clinical dementia ratings and brain function.”

Future Research Avenues

Kaddoumi stressed the need for more extensive studies. These should explore how different olive oil grades affect various ethnic groups and those with advanced cognitive impairment.


While more research is necessary, the current study indicates that both EVOO and refined olive oils may delay or prevent cognitive conditions. Kaddoumi concluded, “People without cognitive impairments could consider adding EVOO to their diet as a preventative measure.”

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