While experts continue to debate the addition of omega-3 fatty acids to our daily diets, fresh neurological evidence has emerged in its defence.
One of the most common side-effects of ageing is cognitive decline, with incurable degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s an unsettling prospect for millions.
But a team out of the University of South Dakota examined 1,100 postmenopausal women who had participated in the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study. The researchers measured the levels of fatty acids DHA and EPA (commonly found in fatty fish) in their red blood cells and the amount in different parts of their brains, as well as their total brain volume, via MRI after the eight-year-study period.
Those who had the highest levels of the fatty acids in their red blood cells were found to have greater overall brain volume, plus 2.7% higher volume of hippocampus – the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning and most affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
Study author James Pottala believe that consuming greater quantities of omega-3 fatty acids could buy you as much as two extra years of brain health.
“Most organisations recommend that all adults should eat non-fried ‘oily’ fish (e.g. salmon, herring, tuna, sardines, etc.) at least twice a week,” advises Pottala. “Otherwise, high-quality fish supplements may be needed.”