Is eating fish good for your brain?
If eating fish every week meant you wouldn’t get Alzheimer’s in twenty years would you do it? For some of us the answer is “Heck, yes!” Unfortunately, it’s not totally clear how much a role our diet plays in the risk of developing dementia.
Yesterday, a study was released that suggests eating baked or broiled fish may help prevent cognitive decline. Here’s a rundown of what you need to know:
In this study, consumption of baked or boiled fish at least once per week was positively associated with brain structure. Larger brain volumes were related to reduced risk for cognitive decline over five years.
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh studied 260 cognitively normal individuals from the Cardiovascular Health Study. They derived information on their fish consumption using the National Cancer Institute Food Frequency Questionnaire. Participants also had MRI imaging of the brain.
Beyond the headline
We’ve all probably heard that fish – especially those rich in Omega 3 fatty acids – may be helpful for brain health. These researchers found that people in the study who ate baked or broiled fish at least once per week had less deterioration in volume in some key brain areas. And those who had larger brains in these areas had less cognitive decline over five years. But these are only statistical associations. We don’t yet know if there is cause and effect at work here. It’s also important to note that no benefit was seen in those who consumed fried fish, suggesting that perhaps other lifestyle factors might be a factor – meaning, is there something else about people who eat baked and broiled fish that might be causing the benefit?
The bottom line
This is not the first study to show positive effects of eating fish on brain health. The Mediterranean Diet is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and fish and has been shown to correlate with better brain health. There is no diet that has been proven to stave off Alzheimer’s. This new study raises important questions that warrant additional study.
For more information on the latest news and developments in Alzheimer’s research, visit www.alz.org/research.