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Mounting evidence suggests adding just a spoonful of olive oil to your diet each day can have powerful health benefits. A new study from the US suggests this includes protection against dementia.

While healthy 'Mediterranean' diets in general tend to include a dash of olive oil, the researchers claim the ingredient itself stands out for its beneficial qualities.

Tessier and colleagues combined the results of surveys on nurses and health professionals conducted from the 1970s and 1980s. All were free of heart disease and cancer when the surveys first introduced questions on olive oil consumption in 1990.

The researchers found adults who regularly consumed more than 7 grams of olive oil a day (a little over a teaspoon, or about half a tablespoon) were 28 percent less likely to die of dementia-related diseases compared to those who never or rarely consumed olive oil.

"Olive oil may exert anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects due to its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids and other compounds with antioxidant properties such as vitamin E and polyphenols," the team explained in their paper.

Source: Science Alert