Brain Food: Nothing Fishy About This

Baked or broiled fish makes for an excellent brain food.

A recent study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) found that people who consumed fish on a weekly basis had better memory retention were at a significantly lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in old age.

Scientists believe that the Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish help increase blood flow to the brain, reduce inflammation and reduce the build up of harmful plaque which typically precedes the onset of cognitive impairment. (These benefits don’t apply to fish that is fried, a cooking process that breaks down the healthy fats.)

Using MRI scans, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh studied the brain health of 260 seniors over a period of 10 years. The study provides the first direct link between fish consumption and brain health. Participants who consumed fish at least once a week were three to five times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s symptoms than those who had little or no fish in their diets. They also maintained higher levels of grey brain matter and were five times less likely to suffer memory loss compared with those who did not eat fish regularly.

Lead researcher Dr. Cyrus Raji said that larger brain volume is closely tied to brain health. “Consuming baked or broiled fish promotes stronger neurons in the brain’s grey matter by making them larger and healthier,” Dr. Raji explained. “This simple lifestyle choice increases the brain’s resistance to Alzheimer’s disease and lowers risk for the disorder.”

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