Is the long-term consumption of olive oil associated with dementia-related death risk?

In a prospective cohort study of 92.383 adults observed over 28 years, the consumption of more than 7 g/d of olive oil was associated with a 28% lower risk of dementia-related death compared with never or rarely consuming olive oil, irrespective of diet quality.

These results suggest that olive oil intake represents a potential strategy to reduce dementia mortality risk.

One-third of older adults die with Alzheimer disease or another dementia.

While deaths from diseases such as stroke and heart disease have been decreasing over the past 20 years, age-standardized dementia mortality rates have been on the rise.

The Mediterranean diet has gained in popularity owing to its recognized, multifaceted health benefits, particularly on cardiovascular outcomes.

Accruing evidence suggests this dietary pattern also has a beneficial effect on cognitive health.

As part of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil may exert anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects due to its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids and other compounds with antioxidant properties such as vitamin E and polyphenols.

A substudy conducted as part of the Prevencion con Dieta Mediterranea (PREDIMED) randomized trial provided evidence that higher intake of olive oil for 6.5 years combined with adherence to a Mediterranean diet was protective of cognitive decline when compared with a low-fat control diet.

Given that most previous studies on olive oil consumption and cognition were conducted in Mediterranean countries, studying the US population, where olive oil consumption is generally lower, could offer unique insights. Recently, we showed that olive oil consumption was associated with a lower risk of total and cause-specific mortality in large US prospective cohort studies, including a 29% (95% CI, 22%-36%) lower risk for neurodegenerative disease mortality in participants who consumed more than 7 g/d of olive oil compared with little or none.

However, this previous analysis was not designed to examine the association of olive oil and diet quality with dementia-related mortality, and therefore the latter remains unclear.

In this study, we examined the association between total olive oil consumption and the subsequent risk of dementia-related mortality in 2 large prospective studies of US women and men. Additionally, we evaluated the joint associations of diet quality (adherence to the Mediterranean diet and Alternative Healthy Eating Index [AHEI] score) and olive oil consumption with the risk of dementia-related mortality. We also estimated the difference in the risk of dementia-related mortality when other dietary fats were substituted with an equivalent amount of olive oil.


This study found that in US adults, particularly women, consuming more olive oil was associated with lower risk of dementia-related mortality, regardless of diet quality. Substituting olive oil intake for margarine and mayonnaise was associated with lower risk of dementia mortality and may be a potential strategy to improve longevity free of dementia. These findings extend the current dietary recommendations of choosing olive oil and other vegetable oils to the context of cognitive health and related mortality.

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