Washington: The mystery of how consumption of extra virgin olive oil helps reduce the risk of Alzheimer`s disease may lie in one of its component that helps shuttle the abnormal proteins out of the brain, a new study has revealed.
Amal Kaddoumi and colleagues note that Alzheimer`s affects about 30 million people worldwide, but the prevalence is lower in Mediterranean countries.
Scientists once attributed it to the high concentration of healthful monounsaturated fats in olive oil - consumed in large amounts in the Mediterranean diet.
Newer research suggested that the actual protective agent might be a substance called oleocanthal, which has effects that protect nerve cells from the kind of damage that occurs in the disease.
Kaddoumi`s team sought evidence on whether oleocanthal helps decrease the accumulation of beta-amyloid (AB) in the brain, believed to be the culprit in the disease.
They describe tracking the effects of oleocanthal in the brains and cultured brain cells of laboratory mice used as stand-ins for humans in such research.
In both instances, oleocanthal showed a consistent pattern in which it boosted production of two proteins and key enzymes believed to be critical in removing AB from the brain.
The study is published in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience.