Food for the Brain
The omega-3 fatty acids found primarily in fish (but also some plants) have many health benefits and is great food for the brain. This article from FoxNews summarizes the results of this study published recently in Neurology.
We often hear that what’s good for the heart is good for the brain and vice versa. I’ve never been sure why we would think otherwise. In fact, I think we can reasonably conclude that what is good for one organ-system is most likely good for the entire body. It doesn’t make sense that one nutrient or food would be good for one organ but not the others.
EPA and DHA: the Real Food for the Brain
The main omega-3 fatty acids are EPA and DHA. In the study cited by FoxNews individuals with higher levels of EPA and DHA has larger brains than those individuals with lower levels. Lower levels of EPA and DHA were also associated with lower scores on tests of problems-solving and memory. Lower levels of DHA have also been thought to possibly increase the risk of ADHD in kids. Lower levels of DHA in kids are thought to be related to lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids found in breast milk as a result of a decline in consumption of fish.
Benefits of Fish Oil
The easiest way to ensure receiving an optimal amount of omega-3 fatty acids is to take fish oil supplements. A high quality product is more likely to be free of contaminants like mercury than eating fish. In our post, “Fish Oil: the Must Have Supplement” we reviewed the many health benefits of fish oil.
If you eat fish three times a week you are most likely getting adequate amounts of EPA and DHA.
Fish oil improves levels of important neurotransmitter in the brain like dopamine and serotonin. Fish oil protects the heart against dangerous arrhythmias and keeps the blood thin. It also is a natural anti-inflammatory and improves hormone-receptor sensitivity meaning improved hormone function.
Fish is really brain food. So be smart and eat fish. If you don’t like fish you can still be smart by taking a high quality fish oil supplement. Either way you are likely to stay smarter longer and possibly live longer too.