As if we needed another reason to love olive oil. We know already that olive oil can offer protection against heart disease by controlling bad cholesterol levels while raising levels of good cholesterol, it can protect against gallstones and it may guard against colon cancer, but now we also are finding out that it can prevent Alzheimer's disease.
A new study conducted by researchers from Northwestern University and the Monell Chemical Senses Center has found that a naturally occurring compound found in extra virgin olive oil beneficially alters the structure of neurotoxic proteins believed to contribute to the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's.
The structural change impedes the ability of highly toxic proteins known as ADDLs to damage brain nerve cells, according to a release from Northwestern that explained the study's findings. This effect of the compound found in the olive oil, oleocanthal, could be used to advantage in new therapeutics and diagnostics.
ADDLs bind within the neural synapses of the brains of Alzheimer's patients and are believed to directly disrupt nerve cell function, eventually leading to memory loss, cell death and global disruption of brain function. Oleocanthal changes the structure of ADDLs by increasing the protein's size, also making ADDLs into stronger targets for antibodies.
The study will be published in the October 15 issue of the journal Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology.
The findings, according to the researchers, may help to identify effective preventative measures and lead to improved therapeutics in the fight against Alzheimer's.