Olive Polyphenol helps protect the aging brain

October 29, 2007

Two types of studies show that an olive antioxidant protects the brain from damaging free radicals and may offer some protection from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. In the first study isolated brain cells from mice were exposed to oxidizing agents that generate unstable free radicals. Some of the brain cells had the olive antioxidant Hydroxytyrosol added to them. The free radicals damaged the ability of the brain cells to create energy; an important aspect seen in the aging brain and the level of the energy substrate ATP dropped by 40%. ATP is the currency the body uses to form energy. In the presence of the olive antioxidant ATP loss dropped by only 15%. In two ex-vivo studies the researchers show that Hydroxytyrosol not only penetrated well into brain tissue but that it increased the ability of brain cells to resist free radical damage and decreased the level of malondialdehyde. Malondialdehyde is formed when lipids in the body go rancid, a process caused by these oxygenating free radicals. The 25% drop in this metabolite illustrates clearly a protective benefit for the brain derived from the olive polyphenol. The study is published in the current issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.