Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club

Dementia: Olive oil could help protect brain health, according to new study

Adapted from the original research and an article by Robby Berman in Medical News Today, August 2, 2023

Consuming half a tablespoon of olive oil per day could substantially lower your risk of dying from dementia, a new study shows.

According to a presentation on July 24 at the NUTRITION 2023 conference in Boston, the study found that people who consumed half a tablespoon or more of olive oil daily had a 25% reduced risk of dying from dementia compared to people who did not consume olive oil.

What’s more, higher olive oil intake was linked to greater brain benefits. “We found a clear linear dose-response association between higher daily olive oil intake and lower risk of fatal dementia,” said presenter Anne-Julie Tessier, RD (registered dietician), PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.

This US-based study is the first to investigate the relationship between diet and dementia-related death. The investigators analyzed the health records from 1990 to 2018 of more than 90,000 people in the US who did not have cardiovascular disease or cancer at the start of the study. During the study’s 28 years of follow-up, 4,749 participants died from dementia.

Replacing even a single teaspoon of margarine or commercial mayonnaise with olive oil was also associated with a 5-12% reduced risk of dying from dementia, according to the research team. These benefits were not seen with other vegetable oils.

The link between higher olive oil intake and lower risk of dying of dementia was observed regardless of the overall quality of people’s diets. This may indicate that components of olive oil provide unique benefits for brain health.

“Some antioxidant compounds in olive oil can cross the blood-brain barrier, potentially having a direct effect on the brain,” said Dr. Tessier. “It is also possible that olive oil has an indirect effect on brain health by benefiting cardiovascular health.” She noted that only a few individuals in the study consumed more than 15 mg (about 1 tablespoon) of olive oil daily.

A body of previous research has established an association between olive oil intake and a lower risk of heart disease, and incorporating olive oil as part of the Mediterranean diet has also been shown to help protect against cognitive decline.

Dr. Tessier reflected on the characteristics of olive oil that may confer its effects on the brain: “Olive oil may play a beneficial role in cognitive health through its rich content in monounsaturated fatty acids, which may promote neurogenesis [growth of brain cells]. It also contains vitamin E and polyphenols that have antioxidant activity.”

The research team advised that an observational study such as this is only able to identify an association and does not prove that olive oil is the cause of the reduced risk of dying from dementia. Randomized, controlled trials are needed to confirm the study’s findings and to help establish the optimal quantity of olive oil to consume in order to experience the most benefits.

Reference: Tessier JA, Yuan C, Cortese M, et al. Olive oil and fatal dementia risk in two large prospective US cohort studies. Poster presented at NUTRITION 2023 conference, Fairfax, VA, July 24, 2023.

Brekky Piadina

My wife and I enjoyed a particularly satisfying breakfast recently at the charming D.O.C. Espresso in Melbourne’s Little Italy. Piadina, originally a specialty of Emilia-Romagna, is a kind of flatbread. If you cannot find it, substitute Middle Eastern flatbread or fresh tortillas. Feel free to create your own piadina fillings—the combination of cream cheese, smoked salmon, red onion, and capers is especially good.


  • 2 piadinas or other flatbreads (see above)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 portobello mushrooms, trimmed and diced
  • 2 large eggs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces asiago cheese, grated
  • Handful of arugula (optional)


Step 1

Heat the oven to warm (175°F if your oven doesn’t have a warm setting). Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. One at a time, gently warm the piadinas, turning once with tongs. When hot, enclose the piadinas in a square of aluminum foil and place in the oven to keep warm.

Step 2

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the mushrooms to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté the mushrooms until they begin to brown and have given up their liquid. Remove from the skillet and keep warm. Add another tablespoon or two of olive oil to the skillet. Thoroughly whisk the eggs, then pour into the skillet. Using a rubber spatula, scramble the eggs until they are barely cooked. Season with salt and pepper.

Step 3

Place each warm piadina on a dinner plate. Top each with half the mushrooms, eggs, cheese, and arugula, if using. Drizzle with additional olive oil, if desired. Fold in half and serve immediately.

Serves 2 generously

Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Two Dipping Sauces

Delicious all year round, this is a crunchy, flavorful vegetarian version of the Asian classic. For a more traditional filling, start with a row of boiled shrimp and sautéed slices of pork belly. When serving, dip the rolls in the vinaigrette first—a great “dressing” for the veggies wrapped inside—then the peanut sauce, for a second jolt of flavor. Rice paper wrappers come dried, so you can store them in your pantry.


For the vinaigrette dipping sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon chili sauce, such as Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce

For the peanut dipping sauce:

  • 2/3 cup crunchy-style peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili-garlic paste or hot sauce
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • Up to 1/3 cup water, as needed

For the summer rolls:

  • Small head of Boston or Bibb lettuce, separated into leaves, rinsed, and patted dry
  • 1 large cucumber, cut into matchsticks
  • 3 large scallions, trimmed and cut into 3-inch lengths
  • 2 large carrots, scrubbed and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cup bean sprouts or enoki mushrooms
  • 1 cup each fresh mint leaves, Italian or Thai basil, and cilantro
  • 2 serrano or jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded, and cut into thin rounds
  • 16 round rice paper wrappers, about 9 inches in diameter


Step 1

Prepare the two dipping sauces by whisking their respective ingredients in two small bowls. For the peanut sauce, blend the peanut butter with the olive oil to soften it, then add the rest of the ingredients; add the water, as needed, to thin the sauce to a pourable consistency. Set both aside.

Step 2

Prep all the vegetables and then fill a 9- or 10-inch pie plate with warm water. Slide one rice paper wrapper into the water and swirl it around briefly, only about 3 to 5 seconds—it should still feel slightly firm as you take it out of the water. Transfer it to a plate or a cutting board and, starting with a lettuce leaf, layer on your fillings one-third down from the top of the wrapper. Fold the top of the wrapper over the fillings, fold in the sides, and then roll up the rest of the wrapper.

Step 3

Transfer it to a serving plate and continue to make the rest of the rolls. Serve with the dipping sauces.

Serves 4 as a main dish, 8 as an appetizer

Spicy Baked Tuna Steaks with Lemon and Capers

Australia is surrounded by rich saltwater fishing grounds, home to species like bluefin tuna, monkfish, and barramundi. This recipe showcases tuna, but halibut, swordfish, or even salmon could be substituted. Garam masala is an Indian spice blend (see the recipe for Aussie Meat Pie), available online or in the international aisle of larger supermarkets.


  • Four 6-ounce tuna steaks
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 tablespoons brined capers, drained
  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish


Step 1

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Step 2

Place the tuna steaks in a nonreactive baking dish just large enough to hold them. Trim the zest off one lemon in broad strips. Juice the lemon. Whisk the lemon juice, anchovy paste, if using, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt into the olive oil. Pour the mixture over the steaks, then generously season the top of each with garam masala. Place the strips of lemon zest and garlic cloves in the oil surrounding the tuna, turning to coat. Sprinkle the capers evenly in the baking dish (in the oil and over the tuna).

Step 3

Roast the tuna for 10 minutes, then baste with the olive oil mixture. Continue to bake the fish until it flakes easily when pressed with a fork, about 5 minutes more, or until done to your liking.

Step 4

In the meantime, slice the remaining lemon into 4 wedges.

Step 5

After removing them from the oven, baste the tuna steaks once more. Using tongs, remove the lemon zest and garlic cloves from the olive oil mixture and discard.

Step 6

Arrange the tuna steaks on a platter or plates, then spoon some of the lemon and caper sauce over them. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.

Serves 4