Fish consumption could boost seniors’ brain health

A study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences suggests shifting focus from omega-3s to fish, pure and simple, baked or broiled, for better brain health.

Fish consumption could boost seniors' brain health

“Our study shows that people who ate a diet that included baked or broiled, but not fried, fish have larger brain volumes in regions associated with memory and cognition,” says senior investigator James T. Becker, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, Pitt School of Medicine.

While studies abound hailing the multitude of health benefits that omega-3 fatty acids offer and associations with brain health account for a large portion of them, Dr. Becker and his team were underwhelmed by the influence of omega-3s in their study.

“We did not find a relationship between omega-3 levels and these brain changes, which surprised us a little,” he says. “It led us to conclude that we were tapping into a more general set of lifestyle factors that were affecting brain health of which diet is just one part.”

Using high-resolution MRI scans of the brain, lead investigator Cyrus Raji, M.D., Ph.D., who now is in radiology residency training at UCLA, and the research team analyzed data from 260 people who were concurrently participating in the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS).

The participants, all of whom were over the age of 65, were assessed to be in good cognitive health at two time points during the 10-year study, which began in 1989, and self-reported their dietary intake.

“The subset of CHS participants answered questionnaires about their eating habits, such as how much fish did they eat and how was it prepared,” says Dr. Raji. “Baked or broiled fish contains higher levels of omega-3s than fried fish because the fatty acids are destroyed in the high heat of frying, so we took that into consideration when we examined their brain scans.”┬áResearchers conclude that participants who ate baked of broiled fish at least once per week had a grey matter volume that was, on average, 4.3 per cent greater than those who didn’t.

Their cognition was superior by 14 per cent and they were more likely to have a college education than non-fish eaters.

Data regarding blood levels of omega-3s, however, revealed no association between the latter and the differences in cognition and grey matter.
“This suggests that lifestyle factors, in this case eating fish, rather than biological factors contribute to structural changes in the brain,” Dr. Becker noted. “A confluence of lifestyle factors likely are responsible for better brain health, and this reserve might prevent or delay cognitive problems that can develop later in life.”

The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Source: ctv news


Healthy diet lowers dementia risk later in life

A new study suggests that healthy dietary choices in midlife may prevent dementia in later years.

The results showed that those who ate the healthiest diet at the average age of 50 had an almost 90 percent lower risk of dementia in a 14-year follow-up study than those whose diet was the least healthy.

The study was the first in the world to investigate the relationship between a healthy diet as early as in midlife and the risk of developing dementia later on.

The researchers assessed the link between diet and dementia using a healthy diet index based on the consumption of a variety of foods. Vegetables, berries and fruits, fish and unsaturated fats from milk products and spreads were some of the healthy components, whereas sausages, eggs, sweets, sugary drinks, salty fish and saturated fats from milk products and spreads were indicated as unhealthy.

Previous studies on diet and dementia have mainly focused on the impact of single dietary components.

“But nobody’s diet is based on one single food, and there may be interactions between nutrients, so it makes more sense to look at the entire dietary pattern,” Marjo Eskelinen, MSc, who presented the results in her doctoral thesis in the field of neurology, said.

Higher intake of saturated fats linked to poorer cognitive functions and increased risk of dementia

The doctoral thesis, published at the University of Eastern Finland, was based on the population-based Finnish Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Ageing and Incidence of Dementia (CAIDE) study.

Source: zee news


Intake of fish can boost good cholesterol levels

Increasing the intake of fatty fish increases the number of large HDL particles, according to a recent study completed at the University of Eastern Finland. People who increased their intake of fish to a minimum of 3-4 weekly meals had more large HDL particles in their blood than people who are less frequent eaters of fish. Large HDL particles are believed to protect against cardiovascular diseases.

The consumption of fish has long been known to be beneficial for health; however, the mechanisms by which fats and other useful nutrients found in fish work in the human body are not fully known. This new study carried out at the UEF provides new information on how the consumption of fish affects the size and lipid concentrations of lipoproteins which transport lipids in the blood. The study participants increased their intake of fatty fish in particular.

It was observed that a higher intake of fish increased the number of large HDL particles and lipids contained in them. Population-based studies have shown that HDL cholesterol — also known as good cholesterol — and large HDL particles are efficient in sweeping extra cholesterol off artery walls. Large HDL particles have been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, whereas small HDL particles may even have opposite effects.
Positive changes in lipid metabolism were observed in persons who increased their intake of fish most, i.e. in persons who ate at least 3-4 fish meals per week.

The study participants ate fatty fish such as salmon, rainbow trout, herring and vendace. No added butter or cream was used in the preparation of fish. The study doesn’t give answers to whether a similar effect would have been observed had the study participants mainly eaten low-fat fish such as zander and perch. Low-fat fish may have other health benefits such as lowering of blood pressure, which was observed in an earlier study carried out at the UEF.

State-of-the-art metabolomics was used in the study, enabling for instance a very detailed analysis of lipoprotein particles. The analyses were carried out by the university’s NMR Metabolomics Laboratory. Traditionally, cholesterol is divided into “bad” LDL cholesterol and “good” HDL cholesterol, but this method allows the investigation of a total of 14 different particle classes. “People shouldn’t fool themselves into thinking that if their standard lipid levels are OK, there’s no need to think about the diet, as things are a lot more complicated than that. Soft vegetable fats and fish are something to prefer in any case,” Postdoctoral Researcher Maria Lankinen says.

However, the researchers emphasize that a dietary approach to the treatment of increased overall and LDL cholesterol levels is important. The findings are well in line with the Finnish nutrition recommendations encouraging people to reduce the consumption of red meat and to increase the consumption of fish and other sea foods. Further information on the health effects of fish will become available in the near future as results from the Alfakala project carried out at the UEF Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition become available. The study takes a more detailed approach into the health effects of fish- and plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids, and it studies the health effects of fatty and low-fat fish.

Source; Science daily