Intelligence and brain function: consume olive oil to boost your intellectual performance

Monounsaturated fatty acids, such as those found in olive or rapeseed oil, are associated with better cerebral functional organization in the dorsal attention network, as well as higher general intelligence.

The brain’s relatively high demand for energy highlights the important role of nutrition in maintaining brain health. Easier access to sources of energy, but also better extraction of the energy contained in food, particularly with the appearance of cooking, has played an important role in the evolution of the human brain, which developed at the expense of the jaw. In this study, researchers attempted to understand how nutrition could be used to support cognitive performance.

Intelligence and the brain linked to monounsaturated fatty acids

In this study, scientists examined 17 saturated or monounsaturated fatty acids from membrane phospholipids in the blood of 99 healthy elderly people. This shows two different blood profiles based on the type of fatty acids: one saturated, the other monounsaturated.

They further find that general intelligence is associated with the brain’s back attention network, which plays a central role in performing tasks that require attention and solving everyday problems. And more precisely, to the functional organization of this part and its connections with other networks.

The Mediterranean diet is great for the brain

The study reveals that high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids are associated with better functional organization of the dorsal attention network as well as higher general intelligence. This is the first time that data have so clearly suggested a link between the consumption of monounsaturated fatty acids and intelligence. The authors now plan to develop an intervention study to see to what extent monounsaturates intake can influence the organization of brain networks and intelligence in the long term. These observations could further contribute to explain what several studies had already reported, namely an association between a Mediterranean diet, which is rich in monounsaturates through the use of olive oil as the main fatty substance, and the functions cognitive.

To have an order of magnitude of the best sources of this type of fatty acid, here are some benchmarks and sources

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Oleic acid content (in g per 100 g of food)

Nuts oil

Olive oil

Colza oil

Goose grease

Avocado oil


Zamroziewicz MK et al. Neurolmage


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