What to Eat to Improve Brain Health

   |  Updated: August 06, 2014 11:37 IST

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What to Eat to Improve Brain Health
 It is a known fact that fish is a healthy source omega-3 fatty acids. Previous studies have linked oily fish like salmon, trout and mackerel to healthy heart and mental functions. A new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, supports the previous theory and claims that adding fish in your weekly diet can be beneficial for your brain cells. Along with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin-e, fish contains certain antioxidants that can help in warding off the risk of dementia. Experts also suggest consumption of broiled or baked fish over fried fish.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine carried out a study according to which more than 80 million people are estimated to be suffering with dementia by 2040. The study shows that those who ate a diet that included baked or broiled fish had larger brain volumes in regions associated with memory and cognition,

"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," said James T Becker, professor of psychiatry, Pitt School of Medicine.

The team carried out an analysis on 260 people. These people underwent high-resolution brain MRI scans and were detected cognitively normal at two time points during their participation in the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS)- a 10-year multicenter effort that began in 1989 to identify risk factors for heart disease in people over 65.

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"The subset of CHS participants answered questionnaires about their eating habits, such as how much fish did they eat and how was it prepared," says lead investigator, Cyrus Raji. "Baked or broiled fish contains higher levels of omega-3s than fried fish because the fatty acids are destroyed in the high heat of frying, so we took that into consideration when we examined their brain scans," he added.

The researchers found that those who ate baked or broiled fish at least once a week had greater grey matter brain volumes in areas of the brain responsible for memory (4.3 per cent) and cognition (14 per cent). But, no association was found between the brain differences and blood levels of omega-3s. "This suggests that lifestyle factors, in this case eating fish, rather than biological factors contribute to structural changes in the brain," Becker noted. (More: Articles on Fish)

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