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Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Want a younger brain? Try eating omega-3
From Fox News:
Your brain may look and act "older" than it really is if your diet is low in omega-3 fatty acids, a new study suggests. The nutrient is often found in fish.
Researchers found that people with low omega-3 fatty acid levels had smaller brains, and did worse on tests of memory and thinking skills, compared with people who had higher omega-3 levels.
"There have been several studies that have shown that omega is beneficial to the heart," said study co-author Dr. Zaldy Tan, a geriatrician at the University of California, Los Angeles. "It may be beneficial to brain health as well."
The study was published Monday in the journal Neurology.
What's good for the heart may be good for the brain
As we age, our brains get smaller, and previous studies have linked brain shrinkage with declines in mental functioning, dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
According to the American Heart Association, omega-3 fatty acids boost heart health, reducing the risk of dying of cardiovascular disease. The association recommends eating small portions of oily fish twice a week (oily fish are those that contain about 15 percent healthy fat, such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines). Additionally, the group advises that people with coronaryheart disease eat fish daily, or talk to a doctor about adding omega-3 to their diet.
Although the study shows a link between lower levels of omega-3 and smaller brains, Tan said "it's premature to recommend that people take omega-3 just for brain health."
He said that improving vascular health by lowering blood pressure and decreasing inflammation could be one potential mechanism than explains the link, but "nobody knows for sure yet."
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