WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Fish that contain high amounts of omega-3 is beneficial to cognitive functioning.
- A new study found that there may be a link between consuming omega-3 and an increase in brain functioning in midlife.
- Study participants with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood performed best in tests that involve problem-solving skills.
A study of almost 2,200 Americans found that eating fish in middle age could make you perform better at problem-solving and prevent memory loss.
The participants, aged 40-60, were checked to measure the level of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood and had their brains scanned in an MRI machine.
Omega-3 comes mainly from eating fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines. These fatty acids are also available as supplements.
The higher the omega-3 level the volunteers had, the better they generally performed in a test of complex reasoning.
Seventy-five percent of participants with the highest omega-3 level also had a larger hippocampus – the brain structure that has a major role in learning and memory. Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio believe that these people were likely to have eaten at least one serving (3g) of oily fish a week.
With a larger hippocampus, these people have more brain cells to ward off dementia as they get older before suffering any memory loss.
The study was published in the Oct. 5 issue of Neurology.
Factors like age and high blood pressure, which can affect cognitive health, were also taken into account.
Omega-3 was linked to better abstract reasoning, based on asking people questions about separate objects. The higher the participant’s omega-3 level, the better they generally perfomed on this important test of mental ability.
Therefore, omega-3 acids may help the brain by reducing harmful inflammation.
Dr. Sara Imarisio, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: ‘As the saying goes, “You are what you eat”, and just like other parts of the body our brains can be affected by the way we live our lives, including our diet.
‘Research into omega-3 and brain health has produced mixed results and while this study adds to the evidence base, it is exploratory and not conclusive,’ Dr.Imarisio commented on the study.
She added: ‘What we do know is that a healthy brain in midlife is important for brain health in later life too and that a healthy diet overall is important in reducing dementia risk.’
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating at least 8 ounces of seafood per week based on a 2,000-calorie diet.
Source: Good News Network