One of the primary keys to the Mediterranean Diet (the inspiration for the MIND Diet) is the use of olive oil.

Olive oil is linked with brain health over time. One Spanish study compared the cognitive effects of olive oil and nuts against those of a general low fat diet. The people who participated in the study were both men and women ranging from 55 to 80 years old. They were also at high risk for vascular disease that can be linked with dementia.

Over a period of 6.5 years, participants in the study received education from dietician to improve their eating habits. One group was asked to supplement their diets with olive oil, the other was asked to supplement with nuts and the third was asked to follow a low fat diet. At the end of the study, people in the group who supplemented with olive oil had the best cognitive performance.

What makes olive oil so good for cognitive health?

  1. It’s believed that the high amounts of oleic acid found in olive oil may reduce some of the inflammation that’s associated with dementia.

  2. Other components of olive oil, including phytosterols, vitamin E, and phenolic compounds may also reduce inflammation.

Olive oil is a common ingredient in Mediterranean food, but you don’t have to cook Mediterranean foods to use it. You can swap most vegetable oils for olive oil in most recipes. If you’re baking, olive oil can make cake and cookies heavier and more moist. Olive oil is also delicious raw, over a salad or other veggies.