Not quite yet

You should never just read just a headline and a few paragraphs in a medical story and rush out and change what you do based on what you think your learned in that story.

This was the actual headline for a recent story in Newsweek: ALZHEIMER’S: HOW EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL PREVENTS BRAIN PLAQUES AND PRESERVES MEMORY.

Sound great, right, and it might push you to rush out and buy barrels of EVOO to save your quickly-shrinking brain function.

And if you read just a bit further, you would be even more convinced to load up on EVOO.

The next two paragraphs tell you (without qualification) that the Mediterranean diet lowers the risk of dementia (well, maybe, but also maybe not) and that EVOO is the particular ingredient responsible for that benefit (maybe, maybe not).

Then, the story tells you that researchers have now found  “how this key ingredient works to prevent cognitive decline and preserve memories.

Woo hoo, so far.

But then if you read this far, you finally get to the fifth paragraph that’s when you discover that this research was done in a “mouse model” only.

That’s right.

If you have a pet mouse and you want to help it preserve its cognitive functions, then this is perfect for you: Just feed that mouse lots of EVOO.

However, for yourself, the jury is still out on whether lots of (or even any) EVOO will help you preserve your memory.

It might, but then again, it might do nothing for your cognitive functioning, and the strong caution is that as always, too much of anything – yes, even EVOO – eventually proves to have  lots of unwanted negative consequences.

So for sure, following a Mediterranean-style diet is a healthy way to eat – it’s pretty unlikely that a diet that stresses veggies and legumes would be harmful, after all.

And equally important, I think, is what you don’t eat when you strictly follow Mediterranean diet guidelines.

But if you want to know exactly, which elements of a Mediterranean diet are the most crucial or in what in what proportions those potentially helpful nutrients must be consumed, we still don’t really know.

We have suspicions, nothing more.