It is called hydroxytyrosol and is a substance with strong antioxidant properties, present in high quality olive oil and also present in abundance in oilive oil processing waste. Thanks to a the italian National Research Council (CNR) study, it was possible to underline its role in brain anti-aging.
Extra virgin olive oil can help keep the brain young. To assert this is a team of researchers, led by Felice Tirone in collaboration with Laura Micheli, Giorgio D’Andrea and Manuela Ceccarelli of the Institute of biochemistry and cell biology of the National Research Council, who managed to identify the neurons anti- aging role of a particular component present in high quality extra virgin olive oil, the hydroxytyrosol, a chemical component with strong antioxidant properties. As explained also by the portal of Humanitas, a renowned Milan hospital, this component is one of the those responsible for the slightly bitter and spicy taste of extra virgin olive oil and with the oleuropeine and its derivative oleocantale is considered among the main protagonists of the beneficial properties of the Mediterranean diet. These substances , among other things, make up the so-called “polyphenols” i.e. those substances that differentiate high quality extravirgin olive oil from the mediocre ones.
The beneficial effects for the elderly
The study, which has been published in the international Faseb Journal and has also seen the collaboration of researchers from the University of Tuscia, underlined, especially for the elderly, the particular beneficial effects of hydroxytyrosol contained in high quality extravirgin olive oil. To explain in detail how the product works, CBR researchers explained that new neurons are produced in the brain of mammals, especially in the hippocampus (organ located in the internal region of the temporal lobe). This process is called in jargon “neurogenesis” and for experts it is fundamental for the formation of episodic memory. In particular, the new hippocampal neurons are generated from stem cells and when the body ages, a progressive decrease of both occurs, which is the basis for a drastic reduction in episodic memory, i.e. the memory of all events of our life, therefore a type of long-term memory. Hydroxytyrosol, naturally present in high quality extra virgin olive oil, thanks to its antioxidant and protective properties on cells, therefore manages to stimulate adult neurogenesis.
The details of the study
“Oral intake of hydroxitisol for one month keeps new neurons produced during this period alive, both in adults and in the elderly, in which it also stimulates the proliferation of stem cells, from which neurons are generated”, said Tirone. “In addition, hydroxytyrosol, thanks to its antioxidant activity, is able to cleanse the nerve cells, because it also leads to a reduction in some aging markers such as lipofuscins, which are accumulations of debris in neuronal cells”, observed the expert. To demonstrate their thesis, Cnr researchers verified, thanks to a marker of neuronal activity (called “c-fos”), that the new neurons produced in excess in the elderly were actually inserted in the neuronal circuits, “thus indicating that the effect of hydroxytyrosol translates into an increase in hippocampal function, “said Laura Micheli. “The dose taken daily during the trial is equivalent to the doses that a man could take with an enriched diet or with supplements, that is, about 500 mg per day per person). “However, the intake of hydroxytyrosol would have an even greater efficacy if it occurred through the consumption of a functional food such as olive oil”, concluded the expert.