Canola Oil May Worsen Learning Ability and Memory in Alzheimer’s

have often received a bad rap because of their potential negative health effects.\” “}” data-sheets-userformat=”{“2″:769,”3″:[null,0],”11″:4,”12”:0}”>Processed soybean, corn, and cottonseed oil, have often received a bad rap because of their potential negative health effects. In comparison, oils such as olive or canola are often recommended to those more mindful of their well-being.

Although canola oil is one of the most consumed vegetable oils, it has been linked to both worsened learning ability and worsened memory in mice. Recent research is making us rethink canola oil — which has long been advertised as a ‘healthy’ option.

Canola Oil May Compromise Neural Health

Canola oil has been an attractive option in recent years, based on its low cost and apparent health benefits. However, until this study, there was not much data on canola consumption in relation to Alzheimer’s. Often sold as a substitute for olive oil, canola oil is believed to offer a similar monounsaturated fatty acid profile.

As published in Scientific Reports, this study investigated the effect of canola consumption in mice that develop tangles and plaques. Using this mouse model of Alzheimer’s, the researchers compared mice who either received chow supplemented with canola oil or regular chow for six months.

What they found, was that the mice which consumed a diet rich in canola oil, later experienced weight gain and working memory impairments. The mice also displayed a decrease in post-synaptic density protein-95 — an indicator of synaptic integrity. Although no changes were reported in tau phosphorylation and neuroinflammation, the overall findings do not support a beneficial effect.

Here is a summary of the results:

  • Canola oil’s effect on animal body weight — At the beginning of the study, mice did not differ in body weight. By the end of the study, those consuming canola oil weighed an average of 37.71 grams, whereas the regular chow group weighed an averaged of 31.88 grams.
  • Canola oil’s effect on brain amyloidosis — After 12 months, the mice were euthanized and their brains were assessed for amyloid beta levels. In comparison to the control group, the canola oil group was found to have a higher ratio of amyloid beta 42/40.
  • In terms of their behavior, mice on the canola diet experienced a decline in their working memory when completing maze tests. The senior author stated that, “although canola oil is a vegetable oil, we need to be careful before we say that it is healthy.” This means that canola should not be compared as an equivalent to olive oil — which has proven benefits.
  • The next step is to perform further research, conducting studies over a shorter period of time. This will allow the researchers to see how quickly an Alzheimer’s-affected brain begins to show damage. They are also interested to see if these effects are unique to Alzheimer’s, or if canola oil influences other neurodegenerative diseases and other forms of dementia.

Why Choose Olive Oil?

Based on this latest research, it is important to focus on options that have been shown to protect brain tissue. Olive oil is both accessible and highly beneficial, offering protective neural effects.

The benefits of olive oil

Olive oil has made the headlines time and time again, supporting positive well-being. Rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, olive oil may help protect against heart disease, prevent strokes, offer anti-inflammatory properties, and even preserve memory.

As part of a balanced, Mediterranean diet, researchers have found that olive oil may protect memory and learning ability while reducing the formation of amyloid beta. As stated in one study, it was found that extra-virgin olive oil offered protective effects against Alzheimer’s, reducing classic markers.

Olive oil has been shown to reduce brain inflammation and may also activate a process known as autophagy. This is the process by which cells effectively break down and clear out toxins, including tau tangles and amyloid plaques. Synaptic integrity was also preserved in mice who consumed a diet rich in olive oil.

How to Choose and Consume Olive Oil

If you want to maximize the nutritional value of olive oil, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Check the label — Make sure that the oil is estate-pressed and bottled.
  • Be mindful of the color — It should be green but not overly green. If it is cloudy, there is no need for concern — this means that the product is unfiltered. When an olive oil is very pale, this could mean that it has been cut with other less healthy vegetable oils.
  • Consume quality cold-pressed olive oil in its raw state. When olive oil is exposed to high-heat, the delicate fatty acids and nutrients can be destroyed. Simply drizzle on soups, salads or grilled vegetables. To cook, use coconut oil instead of olive oil — another healthy option that is much more stable.

Since there is not one definitive solution when aiming to prevent Alzheimer’s, make small steps within your daily routine. Swap out processed vegetable oils for olive and coconut oil. As you begin to make these small changes, you will develop new, healthier habits.

Krista Hillis has a B.A.Sc degree, specializing in neuroscience and psychology. She is actively involved in the mental health and caregiving community, aiming to help others. Krista is also passionate about nutrition and the ways in which lifestyle choices affect and influence the human brain.

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