Studies support the belief that regular intake of Omega-3 rich foods has brain-protecting effects.
Lead by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health, the first study assessed the brain functions of 210 men aged 70-89, finding those consuming of 400mg of omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) had less cognitive decline than those with an intake of 20mg.
"To prevent cardiovascular disease mortality, the American Heart Association recommends the consumption of fish (preferably fatty fish) at least twice a week," said the authors. "That recommendation is compatible with the results of the current study."
The second study, run by the University of North Carolina, investigated the benefits of Omega-3s through comparing presence of the fatty acid in blood with cognitive decline in 2251 Caucasian adults, reporting that greater omega-3 intake may prevent verbal fluency decline.
"Subjects who are under increased oxidative stress… may benefit from enriching their diet with omega-3 highly unsaturated [fatty] acids, which are mostly found in cold-water fish and other foods of marine origin," wrote the researchers.
Although they exist in both plant and marine foods, Omega-3 fats from marine sources are generally considered to have the best evidence of health benefits (including reducing the risk of heart disease).
Food and marine sources of omega-3s
- Canola and soy oils
- Canola-based margarines
- Atlantic salmon
- Southern blue fin tuna
References available on request