A recent study has shown that a consistent diet of fish –– broiled or baked –– may hold the key to fighting Alzheimer’s disease. And, in an unrelated study, but just as important, fish consumed by pregnant women may help their children developmentally.
“This is the first study to establish a direct relationship between fish consumption and brain structure and Alzheimer’s risk,” said Dr. Cyrus Raji, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “The results showed that people who consumed baked or broiled fish at least one time per week had better preservation of gray matter volume on MRI in brain areas at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.”
An additional study in New Zealand found similar results as the Pittsburgh School of Medicine study. Alzheimer’s disease is an incurable, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and cognitive skills.
Raji pointed out that working memory, which allows people to focus on tasks and commit information to short-term memory, is “one of the most important cognitive domains.” Working memory is destroyed by Alzheimer’s disease.
“We found higher levels of working memory in people who ate baked or broiled fish on a regular basis, even when accounting for other factors, such as education, age, gender and physical activity.”
Dr. James Patterson, professor of Psychiatry at LSU Health Shreveport, said Omega 3 fatty acids are the key. Fish, particularly northern fish, have a high concentration of Omega 3 fatty acids, he added. But Louisiana fish also contain varying levels of Omega 3.
There’s also good news for pregnant women. A study conducted by Carol Lammi-Keefe, professor and head of human nutrition at LSU in Baton Rouge, shows a positive link between expectant mothers eating fish weekly and the health of their newborn children.
“There is evidence of a more mature nervous system,” Lammi-Keefe said. “We saw the benefits of Omega 3, especially in the last part of the pregnancy.”
The study also showed:
- At four months, the child’s vision was better.
- At nine months, the child performed better on a problem-solving test. (The child was asked to retrieve a toy.)
Dr. James Barrow, assistant professor of OBGYN at LSU Health Shreveport, said the positive results are linked to an increased development of the child’s central nervous system.
“The data also shows better results for eating fish, rather than taking fish oil supplements,” Dr. Barrow added.