Why Fish is Good for Your Brain

By | March 27, 2012

Want to keep your brain from shrinking as you age? Eat more fish. That’s the conclusion from a recent article in the journal Neurology. Based on the ongoing Framingham Study, researchers looked at interrelationships between omega 3 levels in blood samples and brain size for over 1,500 study participants.

Omega-3s are unsaturated fats that are found in most fish, especially fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and herring. Omega-3s include docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA).

The study found that even in mid-life, lower levels of DHA and EPA in red blood cells was associated with accelerated brain aging and lower brain volume, along with subtle signs of memory and cognitive impairment. The study adds to a growing body of evidence that lifestyle choices we make now will affect our brain health later on. It also confirms the link between heart health and brain health.

For those readers who have a taste or smell aversion to most fish, there are some alternatives for dietary omega-3 intake:

Mung Beans — here in the US, people are probably more familiar with eating the sprouts of mung beans in sandwiches and salads, but the beans themselves contains a wealth of fatty acids. One cup contains 603 milligrams of omega-3s. The beans have a sweet flavor, cook quickly, and are easy to digest. Also try: kidney and pinto beans

Flax Seeds — They’re popular among vegetarians as an alternative to fish, thanks to their extremely high omega-3 content—just two tablespoons contain double the recommended daily value. While you can eat the seeds raw, it may be best to grind them to enhance nutrient absorption. Also try: walnuts.