Cognition is an indispensable ability in everyday life that enables people to live easily, solve problems and situations, and continue to learn and correctly process information from the environment for subsequent retrieval and use. 

Cognitive impairment (CI) is impairment of one or more aspects of cognitive processes, including reduced efficiency or impaired functioning of processes in memory, and/or application, ability to express and comprehend can affect day-to - day functioning of an individual. 

It can range from mild CI to dementia and poses serious threats to the health of the individual and pose threat to the society. Memory and learning is negatively affected by many factors, including lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, etc., smoking, depression, anxiety and stress.

Consumption of certain oils and also aromatherapy with essential oils, have both been seen to ease stress and anxiety and improve memory and cognitive health. 

Many researches have proven that inclusion of mono-unsaturated-fatty-acids (MUFA) such as found in olive oil, coconut and some other nut oils in daily diet is helpful in improving cognitive health and memory. MUFAs, such as are found in olives, coconut and some other nuts are quite beneficial for cognitive health. 

The Relationship between heart health and a healthy brain is well researched, but often ignored. Health problems that affect the heart such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure can negatively affect brain health, especially memory. These are very closely related, so including some oils in diet that benefit both the mind and the heart is advantageous.

Olive Oil

Incorporating olive oil in daily diet is beneficial for both the heart and the brain. This is because olive oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids which are good for heart health and also for brain health. 

Research has shown that MUFAs are good for preventing cognitive decline and boosting memory. It is important, however, that olive, as any other oil, must be consumed in limited quantities only, as oils are high in fat. 

In 2022 a study was conducted by Dr. Amal Kaddoumi and her colleagues, from the drug development department of Harrison College of Pharmacy at Auburn University, on the effects of olive oil on dementia. According to this study cold pressed extra virgin olive oil can be of help in improving memory and may be of help in protecting the brain. 

Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil is prepared with a cold mechanical process, and is able to retain most beneficial nutrients important for health. According to Dr. Kaddoumi oleic acid, the main fatty acid found in olive oil, may be the reason for this effect. 

It is, however, important that cold pressed extra virgin olive oil should not be heated for a long time and to a high degree, as its beneficial effects are reduced on heating. It should ideally be used in sautéing vegetables/chicken or in salad dressings.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil has been labeled as a “memory booster”, because of the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) present in it. About 65% of the fat in coconut oil is a mixture of various types of MCTs. 

Coconut oil is easily absorbed in the intestines and is sent to the liver immediately. In the liver it gets converted to special energy molecules called “ketones”.  

Through research it has been shown that coconut oil is good for improving memory and learning abilities and is also protective against neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Neuro-degenerative diseases develop when the neurons become defective, inflamed or stressed. Coconut oil provides the energy to the neurons to function properly. Also, lauric acid in coconut oil helps to fight inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which damage the neurons. 

Several clinical studies have shown that when some people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s eat a diet rich in MCTs, they have improved memory, attention and cognition.

These are used by the brain easily and help in several mental issues such as forgetfulness, memory loss, and anxiety. Extra virgin coconut oil which is expelled at cooler temperatures and without the use of any chemicals or solvents, has more antioxidants such as polyphenols. These antioxidants help to slow memory loss, enhance cognitive function, and improve learning ability.

Coconut oil also raises levels of tryptophan, an amino acid, which acts as the precursor of serotonin. Serotonin is a hormone, which is called a happy hormone.

As with other cold pressed virgin oil, it is best to use it at a temperature below its smoking point to avoid production of trans-fats. As coconut oil is quite heat-stable, up to the temperature of 350o F. This means it is good for baking and frying at low to medium flame.

Nut oils 

In addition to plant oils, nut oils such as walnut oil, almond oil or peanut oil have associated health benefits. Both of these oils are high in unsaturated fat, which has been shown to lower bad cholesterol. They also both contain vitamin E, which has been reported to have a protective effect against cognitive decline.

Nuts contain abundant amounts of some health promoting fatty acids such as, oleic acid, omega-3 (alpha linolenic acid), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (DPA) and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA).These fatty acids are important for your brain health, help in the growth of new brain cells which boost memory and help to improve concentration,

Walnut oil not only improves brain health but also reduces stress, Omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts are also good for children, as they aid brain development.

Almond oil contains good amounts of vitamin E. Consuming almond oil on a regular basis has been seen to be associated with improved verbal ability and protection against age-related cognitive decline and memory loss. 

Peanut oil also contains omega-6-fatty acids and plant sterols, which may reduce risk of heart disease. Walnut oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which helps to reduce beta amyloid levels in blood. Increased beta amyloid blood levels are linked with cognitive decline.

The combination of unsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E and plant sterols make nut oils good for the brain. Nut oils act as preventive agents against cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases.

Oils to Avoid

Chemically processed oils contain high advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These are sometimes known as glycotoxins, which contribute to oxidative stress and inflammation. One recent study found that diets with less AGE content were associated with reduced incidence of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Take home Message:

It is, however, best to use a mix of oils and in regulated quantities.  It is also advised that the oils must be changed from time to time in order to derive maximum health benefits.

Ms Sunita Roy Chowdhury, Senior Nutritionist, Dietician and Nutrition Educator 
Healthynudgez and Guiding Stars Open Learning Academy,
Under the banner of SS Guiding Stars Pvt. Ltd.


At Multano we are passionate about helping people make their lives healthier and happier. All information provided in this article is researched and authenticated by qualified experts. We are dedicated to providing reliable and accurate information to our readers.   However, please use the information provided here with discretion. Any changes in medication/diet must be done with the approval of your treating medical practitioner/Dietician only.