Compound Found in Olive Oil May Curb Memory Loss – Study

Good news out on brain health: A plant compound found in olive oil and other plant-based foods may help reverse memory loss as we get older, a new study suggests.

The study in The Journal of Nutrition singled out luteolin, saying a diet rich in the plant compound may reduce inflammation in the brain tied to age-related memory loss.

Luteolin (pronounced LOOT-ee-oh-lin) is found in plants including carrots, peppers, celery, peppermint, rosemary and chamomile, as well as olive oil. The research involved mice aged three months to two years.

Scientists focused on specialized immune cells in the brain and spinal cord called microglial cells. When infected, these cells produce molecules called cytokines which, in turn, trigger chemical changes in the brain. Memory loss is among the changes.

Older mice given a luteolin-supplemented diet did better at performing tasks related to learning and memory versus their peers. The researchers said the levels of inflammatory cytokines in the brains of the older mice were more like those found in younger adult mice.

“When we provided the old mice luteolin in the diet it reduced inflammation in the brain and at the same time restored working memory to what was seen in young cohorts,” University of Illinois professor Rodney Johnson told the university’s news service.

Johnson, who led the study and directs the university’s Division of Nutritional Sciences, said research has that shown plant compounds such as luteolin can enter the brain.

“We believe dietary luteolin accesses the brain and inhibits or reduces activation of microglial cells and the inflammatory cytokines they produce,” Johnson told the news service. “This anti-inflammatory effect is likely the mechanism which allows their working memory to be restored to what it was at an earlier age.”

He added the results “suggest that consuming a healthy diet has the potential to reduce age-associated inflammation in the brain, which can result in better cognitive health.”

Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch