The olive oil you put on your salad seems to possess the ability to help prevent Alzheimer's disease, and even to combat it if you already have it.
The magic ingredient in extra-virgin olive oil is oleocanthal, a compound that alters the structure of neurotoxins that contribute to the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's.
These neurotoxins, known as ADDLs, disrupt nerve cell function, leading to memory loss, cell death and the complete disruption of the brain's functions.
Researchers from Northwestern University in Chicago, identified the ADDLs in 1998, and have since carried out laboratory tests that demonstrate that oleocanthal encourages antibodies to attack the harmful neurotoxins.
The research team is hopeful that their discovery could be the breakthrough in Alzheimer's treatment, but only a full clinical trial will provide the answer to that.
(Source: Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 2009; 240: 189-97).