Consumption of Olive Oil and Diet Quality and Risk of Dementia-Related Death

JAMA Netw Open. 2024 May 1;7(5):e2410021. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2024.10021.


Importance: Age-standardized dementia mortality rates are on the rise. Whether long-term consumption of olive oil and diet quality are associated with dementia-related death is unknown.

Objective: To examine the association of olive oil intake with the subsequent risk of dementia-related death and assess the joint association with diet quality and substitution for other fats.

Design, setting, and participants: This prospective cohort study examined data from the Nurses' Health Study (NHS; 1990-2018) and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS; 1990-2018). The population included women from the NHS and men from the HPFS who were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer at baseline. Data were analyzed from May 2022 to July 2023.

Exposures: Olive oil intake was assessed every 4 years using a food frequency questionnaire and categorized as (1) never or less than once per month, (2) greater than 0 to less than or equal to 4.5 g/d, (3) greater than 4.5 g/d to less than or equal to 7 g/d, and (4) greater than 7 g/d. Diet quality was based on the Alternative Healthy Eating Index and Mediterranean Diet score.

Main outcome and measure: Dementia death was ascertained from death records. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards regressions were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs adjusted for confounders including genetic, sociodemographic, and lifestyle factors.

Results: Of 92 383 participants, 60 582 (65.6%) were women and the mean (SD) age was 56.4 (8.0) years. During 28 years of follow-up (2 183 095 person-years), 4751 dementia-related deaths occurred. Individuals who were homozygous for the apolipoprotein ε4 (APOE ε4) allele were 5 to 9 times more likely to die with dementia. Consuming at least 7 g/d of olive oil was associated with a 28% lower risk of dementia-related death (adjusted pooled HR, 0.72 [95% CI, 0.64-0.81]) compared with never or rarely consuming olive oil (P for trend < .001); results were consistent after further adjustment for APOE ε4. No interaction by diet quality scores was found. In modeled substitution analyses, replacing 5 g/d of margarine and mayonnaise with the equivalent amount of olive oil was associated with an 8% (95% CI, 4%-12%) to 14% (95% CI, 7%-20%) lower risk of dementia mortality. Substitutions for other vegetable oils or butter were not significant.

Conclusions and relevance: In US adults, higher olive oil intake was associated with a lower risk of dementia-related mortality, irrespective of diet quality. Beyond heart health, the findings extend the current dietary recommendations of choosing olive oil and other vegetable oils for cognitive-related health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Dementia* / epidemiology
  • Dementia* / mortality
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data
  • Diet, Healthy / statistics & numerical data
  • Diet, Mediterranean / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Olive Oil*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Olive Oil