Consuming olive oil and nuts helps in the proper functioning of the brain of the elderly

Spanish researchers have shown that eating more olive oil and walnuts, two foods rich in vegetable fat and the basis of the Mediterranean diet, increases brain performance in the elderly, as the brain needs good fats for the proper functioning of neurons. With an olive oil or nut supplement it is possible to delay cognitive decline in the elderly, as noted by the study’s lead author, Dr. Emilio Ros of the Clinical Hospital of Barcelona.
Previous studies demonstrate that oxidants are harmful to the brain and, in particular, promote dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease . Studies have shown that the inclusion of the Mediterranean diet, rich in antioxidant substances, can postpone cognitive decline, but the Spanish researchers had no clinical evidence to prove this fact. The medical team of Dr. Ros tested whether a Mediterranean diet rich in vegetable oils improved brain function.

the mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is based on regular and high consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, fish and olive oil . This diet includes low consumption of red meat. For more and more doctors and scientists, this is the best diet to follow for good health.

The study in detail

To carry out the study, the scientists recruited Catalans between 2003 and 2009, with a total of 447 volunteers (men and women) living in Barcelona and without any cognitive impairment, such as dementia. However, all study participants had an elevated cardiovascular risk. The average age of participants was 67 years. At the beginning and end of the study, each participant had to undergo a neuropsychological assessment, and at the end of the study, the test was performed on 334 of 447 participants.

three groups

The study was randomized. This means that, by lot, each participant was required to follow a Mediterranean diet supplemented with 1 liter of extra virgin olive oil per week, 30 grams of nuts (including almonds) or more per day, or more following a normal diet. , without consuming more olive oil or nuts. In the latter group, scientists recommended that they not consume a large amount of fat. Three groups were thus formed. On average, participants followed this diet for 4 years.


For an elderly population, the Spanish researchers came to the conclusion that adding 1 liter of olive oil per week or 30 grams of walnuts to the usual diet helps to improve the cognitive functions of the brain. To reach these conclusions, the researchers performed a battery of tests on the participants, including tests of memory and reflection.

This study was published May 11, 2015 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Myelin sheath gain

Neurons are surrounded by the myelin sheath, which is rich in fat and protein. The myelin sheath protects neurons and promotes interaction between cells. The brain needs fat that comes from food to maintain and ensure the proper functioning of these sheaths. It is estimated that most of this fat is healthy, like the oleic acid found in olive oil, and helps the brain function well. Omega-3s , found in nuts and fish, also play an important role in the structure of the myelin sheath.

Practical nutrition advice

It is recommended to consume walnuts and almonds every day or cook with olive oil. A useful tip is to replace fat with olive oil as much as possible.

ethical question

The problem with this type of study is that if the Mediterranean diet does indeed protect against cardiovascular disease and dementias such as Alzheimer’s, it is ethically questionable not to recommend that all participants consume these foods. In other words, participants in the third group (who didn’t consume olive oil or nuts) will perhaps die of cardiovascular disease or currently suffer from Alzheimer’s. Carrying out this type of study, therefore, is not so easy and may raise ethical questions on the part of researchers.

Read also: Elderly people – olive oil can prevent stroke

Jeanne Kenney
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I’m a stylist trainer, a content creator, and an entrepreneur passion. Virgo sign and Pisces ascendant, I move easily between my dreams, the crazy world I want, and my feet on the ground to carry out my projects.

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