Fatty fish may help prevent memory loss: study
Mon Aug 4, 2008 5:16pm EDT
LONDON (Reuters) - Eating tuna and other fatty fish may help prevent memory loss in addition to reducing the risk of stroke, Finnish researchers said on Monday.
People who ate baked or broiled -- but not fried -- fish high in omega-3 fatty acids have been found to be less likely to have "silent" brain lesions that can cause memory loss and dementia and are linked to a higher risk of stroke, said Jyrki Virtanen of the University of Kuopio in Finland.
"Previous findings have shown that fish and fish oil can help prevent stroke, but this is one of the only studies that looks at fish's effect on silent brain (lesions) in healthy, older people,", Virtanen, who led the study, said in a statement.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and in other foods such as walnuts. They have been shown to provide an anti-inflammatory effect and have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
The Finnish team studied 3,660 people aged 65 and older who underwent brains scans five years apart to detect the silent brain lesions, or infarcts, found in about 20 percent of otherwise healthy elderly people
The researchers found that men and women who ate omega-3-rich fish three times or more per week had a nearly 26 percent lower risk of having silent brain lesions.
Eating just one serving per week led to a 13 percent reduced risk, compared to people whose diets did not include this type of fish, the researchers reported in the journal Neurology.
Fried fish for some reason did not appear to have the same benefits, the researchers added.
"While eating tuna and other types of fish seems to help protect against memory loss and stroke, these results were not found in people who regularly ate fried fish," Virtanen said.
(Reporting by Michael Kahn, Editing by Toby Reynolds)