Older people who hope to keep their brains in good health probably should eat more fish, according to a recent study.
Researchers found that eating two or more servings of fish weekly may lower your risk of developing vascular brain disease later in life. This disease is a group of conditions that impact blood flow and blood vessels in the brain.
According to the study — published in the online edition of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology — the protective effect of such a diet is strongest in people who are younger than 75.
In a press release, study author Cecilia Samieri of the University of Bordeaux in France says:
“Our results are exciting because they show something as simple as eating two or more servings of fish each week is associated with fewer brain lesions and other markers of vascular brain damage, long before obvious signs of dementia appear. However, eating that much fish did not have a protective effect in people 75 years of age and older.”
As part of the study, researchers analyzed data on more than 1,600 people age 65 and older who had no history of dementia, stroke or cardiovascular disease. Their average age was 72.
Brain scans were used to search for three markers of vascular disease that are strong predictors of cognitive decline and dementia. Study participants also filled out questionnaires about their diet.
The researchers found that 31% of those who ate no fish had markers of severe underlying vascular brain disease.
That number fell to 23% of those who ate three servings a week, and 18% of those who ate four or more servings per week.
So, which fish should you eat to keep your brain in top shape? Those cited by the University of Bordeaux researchers include:
These are among the types of fish known to contain Omega-3s. The National Institutes of Health says of these essential fatty acids:
“Omega-3s are important components of the membranes that surround each cell in your body. DHA [or docosahexaenoic acid, one type of Omega-3] levels are especially high in retina (eye), brain, and sperm cells. Omega-3s also provide calories to give your body energy and have many functions in your heart, blood vessels, lungs, immune system, and endocrine system (the network of hormone-producing glands).”
Looking for foods that can build up the body without breaking down your wallet? Check out “7 Health Foods You Can Make for a Fraction of the Cost.”