Breaking News on Supplements & Nutrition - EuropeUS edition

Headlines > Research

Eating fish weekly may prevent brain ageing regardless of omega-3 content: Study

Post a comment

By Anna Bonar+

Last updated on 22-Aug-2014 at 12:35 GMT

Eating fish weekly may prevent brain ageing: Study

Eating baked or broiled fish once a week may prevent age-related grey matter loss, regardless of how much omega-3 fatty acid it contains, according to an American study.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine tested 260 cognitively normal individuals over the age of 65 for ten years between 1989 and 1999. Participants were asked to fill out questionnaires about their fish consumption, had blood tests and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of their brains.

The aim of the study was to determine whether dietary fish consumption was related to brain structural integrity among cognitively normal elders.

Brain scans showed that those over 65 who eat fish weekly had larger grey matter volumes in the areas responsible for memory (4.3%) and cognition (14%). They were also more likely to have a university education than those who didn’t eat fish regularly. Grey matter is made up of neuronal cell bodies. It is up a major component of the central nervous system involved in muscle control and sensory perception.

"Our study shows that people who ate a diet that included baked or broiled, but not fried, fish have larger brain volumes in regions associated with memory and cognition," said James Becker, senior investigator and professor of psychiatry at Pitt School of Medicine.

"We did not find a relationship between omega-3 levels and these brain changes, which surprised us a little. It led us to conclude that we were tapping into a more general set of lifestyle factors that were affecting brain health of which diet is just one part," Becker added.

Lifestyle over biological factors

It was estimated that more than 80 million people will have dementia by 2040. The findings suggest that lifestyle factors influence brain health and add to the evidence that prevention strategies need to begin decades earlier.

“Our study suggests that lifestyle factors, in this case eating fish, rather than biological factors contribute to structural changes in the brain,” said Becker.

“A confluence of lifestyle factors likely are responsible for better brain health, and this reserve might prevent or delay cognitive problems that can develop later in life,” he added  

American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published online ahead of print 
DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2014.05.037
'Regular Fish Consumption and Age-Related Brain Gray Matter Loss'
Authors: J.Becker et al.

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter

Get FREE access to authoritative breaking news, videos, podcasts, webinars and white papers. SUBSCRIBE

Post a comment

Comment title *
Your comment *
Your name *
Your email *

We will not publish your email on the site

I agree to Terms and Conditions

These comments have not been moderated. You are encouraged to participate with comments that are relevant to our news stories. You should not post comments that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, misleading or invasive of privacy. For the full terms and conditions for commenting see clause 7 of our Terms and Conditions ‘Participating in Online Communities’. These terms may be updated from time to time, so please read them before posting a comment. Any comment that violates these terms may be removed in its entirety as we do not edit comments. If you wish to complain about a comment please use the "REPORT ABUSE" button or contact the editors.

Related products