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Omega-3s and Your Brain

Here’s more food for thought: eating meals rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, sardines and other oily fish, slows changes in the brain that could lead to dementia. Researchers at UCLA measured levels of fatty acids in the red blood cells of 1,575 seniors (average age 67) who showed no signs of dementia. Then, about three months later, the participants underwent MRIs that measured brain size and the blood supply to the brain; they also completed tests for visual memory, attention and abstract thinking. The investigators then rechecked levels of omega-3s in the participants’ red blood cells (accumulations in red blood cells allow researchers to estimate consumption of omega-3s over time). The clinical team found that study participants with the lowest levels of omega-3s scored lowest on the tests and that those in the bottom 25 percent tended to have smaller brain volume overall (on the MRIs their brains actually looked two years older than they were). While this doesn’t prove that omega-3 fatty acids slows brain aging or prevents dementia (something else could be responsible for the differences seen), it does add to emerging evidence suggesting that omega-3s are good for the brain. The study was published in the February 28, 2012 issue of Neurology.

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