The Meditteranean Diet is often heralded as one of the most healthiest diets to eat. The health benefits are as diverse as the variety of vegetables often associated with the diet. Often appreciated because of its monounsaturated fatty acids, extra virgin olive oil is now gaining attention for a different compound: oleocanthal, responsible for the peppery, burning sensation at the back of the throat. This compound has been found to produce anti-inflammatory effects similar to ibuprofen. Although oleocanthal has been discovered since 2005, researchers have yet to do studies on humans; funding is currently being sought for clinical trials. However, testing on mice brain cell cultures as well as live mice shows that oleocanthal "interferes with the formation of characteristic neurofibrillary tangles and beta-amyloid plaques, both of which play principal roles in Alzheimer's neurological devastation" (Nuwer 22). More research is still necessary, and the other aspects of the meditteranean diet must be considered in making food choices. Still, the potential use of oleocanthal and olive oil as treatment methods for Alzheimer's is an exciting prospect.
Nuwer, Rachel. "Mediterranean Mystery." Scientific American. June 2013: 22. Print.