Want a brain boost? Eat more fish

Want a brain boost? Eat more fish

Doctors have been saying for years that making fish a diet staple is good for the heart. Now there’s evidence that eating baked or broiled fish might be good for the brain, as well.

A study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences shows that people who ate baked or broiled fish — not fried — had more grey matter in the parts of the brain associated with memory and cognition.

Published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the study involved 260 people who were also participating in a study on cardiovascular health. Researchers used high-resolution MRI scans to measure brain activity. Participants were all 65 and over and had health assessments twice over the 10-year study period. They self-reported their dietary intake.

Researchers concluded that participants who ate baked or broiled fish at least once a week had a grey matter volume that was, on average, 4.3 percent greater than those who didn’t. Their cognition was 14 percent higher.

It’s often thought that the high amount of omega-3s in fish benefits brain health. But data regarding blood levels of omega-3s, however, revealed no association with the differences in cognition and grey matter.

“This suggests that lifestyle factors, in this case eating fish, rather than biological factors contribute to structural changes in the brain,” said lead researcher James T. Becker, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, Pitt School of Medicine, in a statement. “A confluence of lifestyle factors likely is responsible for better brain health, and this reserve might prevent or delay cognitive problems that can develop later in life.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, about 5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s and dementia, growing to more than 15 million by 2050. That’s just one reason that embracing a healthy lifestyle is paramount.

“Good cognitive health is essential as we get older so that we can keep active and stay independent,” says Dr. Hosam Zakariya, an internal medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group in Mundelein, Ill.

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Comments

6 Comments

  1. My family tries to eat fish at least once a week and now I’m glad we do.

  2. I keep pushing fish. I love fish. My family gets this look on their faces like I offered them something toxic. Will keep trying. Maybe I’ll find the “magic recipe”!

  3. Love to eat fish and here’s an added reason why!

  4. Fish is ok as long is coming from a reliable source. The mercury and other heavy metals are dangerous. Stay away mainly from tuna. Salmon is ok, as long is coming from responsible farms ( wild is seasonal and very expensive). Trout, cod, tilapia are less expensive than halibut. When you are baking white fish, add some chopped tomatoes and onions. On serving, add some fresh squezed lemon juice. Bon appettite!

  5. Stay away from tuna (heavy metals). Salmon is ok as long is coming from responsible farms(wild is seasonal and expensive). Trout, cod, tilapia are less expensive than halibut. When you are baking white fish, add some chopped tomatoes and onions. Serve woth fresh squeezed lemon juice. Bon appettite!

  6. The adding fish to the diet sounds great I love fish. My only question about this would be is sushi or raw fish also just as good for your diet. I personally love sushi and would love to continue it as a weekly habit in my meals.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.