An interesting study in Neurology suggests that a diet rich in seafood (omega 3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA are found in abundance of fish oil) benefits the brain by reducing age related shrinking, while junk food (particularly trans fats) provides the opposite effect. Researchers looked for markers in the blood of patients rather than the more common method of questionnaires in order to ascertain individuals’ diets qualitatively, a much more accurate measure allowing for a more controlled study.
After assessing blood samples of 104 healthy individuals with an average age of 87 and no known risk factors for Alzheimer’s the researchers found that those with the highest levels of omega 3 fatty acids exhibited the highest scores on tests to determine memory and critical thinking skills. Conversely, those with higher levels of trans fats scored the lowest. In addition, after reviewing CT scans of the brains of 42 of the individuals, those with high levels of omega 3s also displayed the largest brain volume while the “junk food” eaters showed a much lower brain volume.
“Fish is brain food” has never been more true. The benefits of fish oil, whether taken as supplements or by incorporating more seafood in one’s diet, are plain to see through the window of this study. Offering a clear correlation with preventing brain shrinkage and retaining keener cognitive abilities as people age, omega 3 fatty acids, particularly in the form of fish oil, may be an easy way to help retain one’s mental performance late into life. While the study doesn’t indicate exactly how the participants diets may have changed over the years, it clearly indicates that one cannot start supplementing one’s diet with fish oil (DHA & EPA) too early.
Nutrient Biomarker Patterns, Cognitive Function, and Mri Measures of Brain Aging
Neurology April 17, 2012 78:1281-1282