Eat fish to prevent memory loss, stroke in old age

August 5th, 2008 - 11:39 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 5 (IANS) Eating tuna and other kinds of fish may help lower risk of memory loss and stroke in healthy older adults, according to a study. For the study, 3,660 people age 65 and older underwent brain scans to detect small lesions in the brain that can cause stroke, dementia or loss of thinking skills.

Scans were performed again five years later on 2,313 of the participants. They were also given questionnaires about fish in their diets.

The study found that people who ate broiled or baked tuna and other fish high in omega-3 fatty acids (called DHA and EPA) three times or more per week had a nearly 26 percent lower risk of having the silent brain lesions that can cause dementia and stroke compared to non fish-eating people.

Eating just one serving of this type of fish per week led to a 13 percent lower risk. The study also found people who regularly ate these types of fish had fewer changes in the white matter in their brains.

“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,” said Jyrki Virtanen, University of Kuopio in Finland. “More research is needed as to why these types of fish may have protective effects, but the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA would seem to have a major role.”

Types of fish that contain high levels of DHA and EPA nutrients include salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and anchovies.

“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 infarcts in healthy, older people,” said Virtanen.

These findings were published in the Tuesday issue of Neurology, journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

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