Olive oil is rich in various antioxidants (vitamin E, polyphenols, …) which play a positive, biological role in eliminating free radicals, the molecules involved in some chronic diseases and ageing, and in extending life expectancy, which has been demonstrated in several epidemiological studies.
Many ageing-related diseases are influenced by diet, in particular osteoporosis and deteriorated cognitive function.
WHAT IS OSTEOPOROSIS?
Osteoporosis is a reduction in bone tissue mass that increases the risk of fractures. There are two types. Type I occurs in middle-aged, post-menopausal women and type II in the elderly.
OLIVE OIL AND OSTEOPOROSIS
Olive oil appears to have a favourable effect on bone calcification, and bone mineralization is better the more olive oil is consumed. It helps calcium absorption, thereby playing an important part during the period of growth and in the prevention of osteoporosis.
OLIVE OIL AND COGNITIVE FUNCTION
Olive-oil-rich diets may prevent memory loss in healthy elderly people. Less possibility of suffering age-related cognitive decline has been observed in a study conducted on elderly people administered diets containing a large amount of monounsaturated fats, the case of olive oil particularly.
Exactly how large quantities of these fats prevent cognitive decline is not known. However, this effect is believed to occur because the monounsaturated fatty acids may help to maintain the structure of the brain cell membranes since the demand for these acids appears to grow during ageing.
The same study observed that the quantity of olive oil consumed was inversely proportional to age-related cognitive decline and memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.