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Eating fish may protect brain from toxic effects of air pollution, study finds

Eating fish may protect brain from toxic effects of air pollution, study finds

Older women may be able to counteract the effects of air pollution on the brain by regularly eating fish, say scientists.

Eating fish may protect brain from toxic effects of air pollution, study finds

A study on eating fish and air pollution’s effects on the brain suggests that omega-3 fatty acids from seafood may help protect the brain from the harmful impact of air pollution.

The study, published in the Neurology journal, found that older women who lived in areas of high air pollution and who ate 1-2 servings of fish or shellfish may consume enough omega-3 fatty acids to protect their brain from the effects of air pollution.

“Fish are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and easy to add to the diet,” said study author Ka He, M.D., Sc.D., of Columbia University in New York.

“Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to fight inflammation and maintain brain structure in ageing brains.”

“They have also been found to reduce brain damage caused by neurotoxins like lead and mercury. So we explored if omega-3 fatty acids have a protective effect against another neurotoxin, the fine particulate matter found in air pollution.”

Omega-3 fatty acids may combat toxic effects of air pollution

1,315 women aged around 70 participated in the research. The women filled out questionnaires about diet, physical activity and medical history at the start of the study.

The researchers calculated the average consumption of fish each week, which included broiled or baked fish, tuna and non-fried shellfish.

The scientists analysed the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood and determined their three-year average exposure to air pollution based on their home address.

After conducting MRI brain scans, the researchers found that women who had the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood had greater volumes of white matter (the nerve fibres that send signals throughout the brain) than the women with less.

The same women also had greater volumes of the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with memory.

“Our findings suggest that higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood from fish consumption may preserve brain volume as women age and possibly protect against the potential toxic effects of air pollution,” said Dr He.

Dr He notes that the study only found an association with brain volume and eating fish and does not prove the theory that eating fish preserves brain volume alone.

“Since separate studies have found some species of fish may contain environmental toxins, it’s important to talk to a doctor about what types of fish to eat before adding more fish to your diet,” says Dr He.

They hope that future studies will be able to explore this connection between a fish diet and the impact of air pollution on the brain.

Looking for some delicious and easy fish recipes? Try these 13 Salmon Recipes For Your Weekly Menu.

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