Everyday dietary items, such as oats and olive oil, could have significant effects on our health according to the latest research. Find out here how olive oil could support brain health and ward against death from dementia-related causes.

How olive oil can support brain health

A recent study has unearthed a connection between olive oil consumption and cognitive health, with the substance showing a reduced risk of death from dementia-related causes. Spanning nearly three decades, the study, reported in the article “Consuming Olive Oil Linked to Lower Risk of Dementia-Related Death” examined data from 92,383 participants who were tracked for their olive oil intake every four years. The findings indicated that individuals consuming at least 7 grams, roughly half a tablespoon, of olive oil daily had a remarkable 28% lower risk of dementia-related mortality compared to those consuming less.

Olive oil's cognitive benefits stem from its rich composition of healthy fats, including monounsaturated fatty acids, along with vitamin E and polyphenols, which are also present in olive leaf. These compounds not only protect against various diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but also support brain health by aiding digestion and fostering neural communication. According to registered dietitian nutritionist Melanie Murphy Richter, olive oil's unique fatty acid profile promotes efficient transmission of electrical impulses in the brain, essential for functions including learning and memory.

What sets olive oil apart from other plant oils is its higher monounsaturated fat content and lower levels of saturated fats. While oils like vegetable and seed oils contain higher omega 6 fatty acids, which can promote inflammation, olive oil's higher omega 3 content helps balance these ratios and reduces the risk of inflammation-related diseases. Moreover, the presence of antioxidants, particularly polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil, offers additional support against chronic ailments.

When choosing olive oil, factors such as country of origin, harvest date, and packaging should be considered. Opting for extra virgin olive oil, preferably cold-pressed and unprocessed, ensures the highest nutritional benefits. Despite recent price hikes due to climate-related concerns, investing in quality olive oil remains crucial for reaping its health rewards.

In conclusion, incorporating olive oil, especially in quantities exceeding 7 grams per day, into your diet is a way of supporting cognitive health.

Study suggests cranberries can support gut health

A groundbreaking study conducted by Université Laval and the Institute of Nutrition and Functional Foods (INAF), reported in the article “Cranberry extracts could boost microbiota and counter cardiometabolic diseases” reveals the remarkable potential of cranberry extract in supporting intestinal health. Led by Professor Yves Desjardins, the research team demonstrated significant improvements in intestinal microbiota after just four days of cranberry extract consumption.

Cranberries have long been celebrated for their health benefits, particularly due to their high polyphenol content, including tannins, and oligosaccharides. These bioactive compounds play a crucial role in enhancing gut health by stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacterium and Akkermansia muciniphila. Unlike dietary fibre, cranberry extract exhibited nearly 20 times greater efficacy in promoting the growth of Bifidobacterium, a key player in reducing the risk of diabetes and cardiometabolic diseases.

Furthermore, cranberry extracts were found to bolster the population of Akkermansia muciniphila, known for its role in reducing inflammation and strengthening the intestinal barrier. This is particularly significant in counteracting the adverse effects of a Western diet, which often leads to gut dysbiosis, mucosal inflammation, and compromised barrier integrity, contributing to chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular conditions.

By modulating inflammatory pathways and promoting the regeneration of beneficial gut bacteria, cranberry extracts offer a promising avenue for improving the prognosis of chronic diseases. The study involved forty participants who consumed cranberry supplements twice daily for four days, equivalent to ingesting 60 grams of fresh cranberries. Plasma, urine, and stool samples collected from participants demonstrated encouraging results, paving the way for further exploration of the long-term effects of cranberry extracts.

While the study showcased positive outcomes for all participants, there was variability in individual responses, warranting future research to identify optimal microbiota signatures for maximal benefits. Supported by the NSERC-Symrise Industrial Research Chair on the prebiotic effect of fruit and vegetable polyphenols (PhenoBio+), the study underscores the potential of cranberry extracts as a natural solution for supporting intestinal health and mitigating chronic diseases. Published in the prestigious scientific journal npj Biofilms & Microbiomes, this groundbreaking research marks a significant step forward in harnessing the therapeutic potential of cranberries for human health.

Ancient grains for heart health and diabetes support

Recent research, discussed in the article “Ancient Grains Like Oats and Millet Can Help People with Type 2 Diabetes Improve Heart Health” sheds light on the potential health benefits of ancient grains, particularly oats, brown rice, and millet, for individuals with type 2 diabetes. This comprehensive meta-analysis, comprising 29 randomised controlled trials, revealed promising outcomes associated with the consumption of these nutrient-rich grains.

The meta-analysis, conducted by a team of experts led by Dr. Nate Wood from the Yale School of Medicine, analysed data from 13 studies to assess the impact of ancient grains on health outcomes in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Notably, the findings highlighted the potential of oat consumption to improve cholesterol levels among those with type 2 diabetes. However, further research is warranted to explore the intricate relationship between ancient grains and diabetes support.

Ancient grains, including oats, brown rice, and millet, are renowned for their rich nutritional profile, encompassing fibre, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Unlike refined grains, these whole grains contain soluble fibre and healthy fats that play a crucial role in regulating blood sugar levels and promoting heart health.

Dr. Marie-Pierre St-Onge, an associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University, emphasised the importance of incorporating whole grains into the diet to support stable blood glucose patterns and reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications. Furthermore, soluble fibre, abundant in ancient grains, has been linked to improved blood sugar management and lipid profiles, offering additional benefits for individuals with type 2 diabetes.

While the meta-analysis underscored the positive impact of ancient grains on health outcomes, including blood sugar management and lipid control, the researchers acknowledge the need for further investigation to validate these findings. Nonetheless, experts emphasise the importance of dietary modifications, portion control, and lifestyle interventions in managing type 2 diabetes effectively.

In summary, incorporating ancient grains into your diet, alongside portion control and consumption of heart-healthy fats and lean proteins, may offer significant benefits for individuals with type 2 diabetes. By making informed dietary choices and adopting a holistic approach to diabetes management, individuals can improve their overall health and well-being.

Share your thoughts

Agree with the findings in this week’s Nutrition News? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is the Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.