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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