Study links eating fish with healthier brains

Eating at least one serving of seafood a week could help stave off Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study.

A strong case has been building for the role that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish could play in protecting against Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. But questions remained about whether these benefits could be canceled out by the mercury in fish, which at high enough levels can be toxic to the brain. The new study suggests that is not the case.

Researchers delved into the complicated relationship between seafood, fatty acids, mercury and dementia among older adults living in the Chicago area. They surveyed the group about their diet every year starting in 1997, and in a subset of 286 participants who died between 2004 and 2013, they performed brain autopsies to look at the levels of mercury and whether there was neurological damage indicative of dementia.

There was indeed more mercury in the brains of participants who reported eating more seafood, but it did not appear to have any effect on whether there was neurological damage. Instead, participants who reported eating seafood at least once a week were less likely to have hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, including amyloid plaques, in their brain.

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