Fish oil may be more beneficial than you think. The more you consume the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils, the less likely you are to lose brain cells as you age, a new study suggests.
More research is needed, however to understand both why this happens and how much the nutrient brings about the most benefit, the researchers said per Philly.
“Our findings support the idea that a higher omega-3 status from fish or supplements is good for brain health,” said study author James Pottala, an assistant professor in the department of internal medicine at the University of South Dakota’s Sanford School of Medicine.
According to the study, published online Wednesday in the journal Neurology, the researchers tested levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the red blood cells of more than 1,000 older women. After eight years, the women had MRI scans that measured their brain volumes. The women were an average of 78 years old at the time of the scans.
The results showed participants whose omega-3 levels were twice as high had 0.7 percent higher brain volume.
“The results suggest that the effect on brain volume is the equivalent of delaying the normal loss of brain cells that comes with aging by one to two years,” Pottala said.
Higher omega-3 levels were also associated with greater volume in hippocampus, the region of the brain in which Alzheimer’s disease first attacks.
The study’s finding offers valuable information, said Dr. Gregory Cole, associate director of the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer ’s disease Research at the University of Southern California.
In the meantime, people who want to boost their omega-3 intake can eat non-fried fish oil found in salmon, herring, tuna and sardines. Additionally, the American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish a week.