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Keep mentally fit by eating fish

A new study suggests eating more fish in order to improve brain health and keep cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease at bay.



In a study conducted out of the University of Pittsburgh, researchers found that people who ate baked or broiled fish at least once a week had more gray matter in areas of the brain that are at risk for Alzheimer's disease, the progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and cognitive skills.

Gray matter volume is crucial to brain health. The healthier the brain, the more grey matter it has. Decreases in gray matter volume indicate that brain cells are shrinking.

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America this week.

Researchers call theirs the first study to establish a direct relationship between fish consumption, brain structure and the risk of Alzheimer's.

Of the 260 individuals selected from a national Cardiovascular Health Study, 163 patients said they consumed fish on a weekly basis; most of those patients also said they ate fish one to four times a week.

To determine their brain health, patients underwent MRI scans that mapped and measured their grey matter volume. A model was then used to establish the relationship between grey matter and fish consumption at baseline and then forecast the brain structure 10 years later.

Researchers also pointed out that eating dried fish was not shown to protect against cognitive decline.

Meanwhile, the findings don't come as a big surprise to Alzheimer's experts given the volume of research that links fish oil and omega-3 to brain health.

In August, researchers from Rhode Island Hospital found positive associations between the consumption of fish oil supplements and cognitive functioning -- a relationship that changed the brain structure of users compared to non-users.

Those results were presented at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Paris this summer.

In a study published a few months later in the British Journal of Nutrition, scientists from Northumbria University also found that a particular fish oil supplement -- DHA-rich fish oil -- improved blood flow to the brain during mental activity in young adults.

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