A recent study by the University of Pittsburg Medical Center’s department of medicine found that regularly eating baked or broiled fish (not fried) lowered participants’ risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s study only followed 260 elderly patients, which isn’t a huge sample, but the finding might spur further research on the effects of diet on this type of brain disease.
What They Found
The study participants underwent periodic brain scans over a period of ten years. People who ate fish at least once a week showed “less brain-cell loss in the hippocampus and frontal cortex regions of the brain” which are related to memory and cognitive ability. Those who ate fish also performed better on tests for short-term memory than those who didn’t.
The correlation between eating fish and slowed brain degeneration doesn’t prove that fish should get the credit, though. Other factors could be at play here. People who eat fish could exercise more often, or eat fewer calories overall. There could also be a link between developing Alzheimer’s and your level of mental engagement.
Other studies have focused on the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and their possible benefits. Studies have been done showing omega-3 fatty acids affecting Alzheimer’s risk. A diet rich in a certain type of fatty acid was shown to slow the accumulation of proteins associated with the disease in mice. More study is needed to find whether such acids can slow the disease in humans, and at least one study found that omega-3s did nothing to help people who already had it.
So, should you add fish to your diet? Participants in the U of P Medical Center study showed lower risk of Alzheimer’s when they ate fish one to four times per week. There’s no way to tell whether increased consumption could lower your risk, but there are definitely other health benefits to eating fish, though children and pregnant women should limit their intake. You’re probably already lowering your risk by reading blogs like this one and making healthy choices in diet and exercise.
How do you prepare your fish? Remember, don’t fry it!
image by USA Today