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Fish—Good Food for a Healthy Older Brain

A number of studies have now reported that eating fish and seafood can lower the risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer's disease. The latest study citing this benefit was just published in the October 26, 2002 issue of the highly respected British Medical Journal. For up to seven years, French researchers followed almost 1,700 people aged 65 or older and found that those who ate fish at least once each week had a 34% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Practical Tips

Here are just a few of the many World’s Healthiest Foods’ serving ideas to help you enjoy seafoods’ beneficial effects on brain-function.

  • For a twist on scrambled eggs, combine eggs with lox (smoked salmon) and onions, a classic NY delicatessen breakfast favorite.
  • Combine soft tofu and baked salmon in blender with lemon juice, scallions and parsley to create a delicious dip. Season to taste.
  • For a healthy appetizer, serve smoked salmon on a platter with onions, capers, lemon wedges and mini rye bread slices.

To learn more about salmon, truly one of the World’s Healthiest Foods, simply click salmon. For information and quick serving ideas for any of the following seafood members of the World’s Healthiest Foods, click on its highlighted name: halibut, scallops, shrimp, snapper. For some exceptionally quick, easy and delicious recipes using any of these seafoods, click on the Recipe Assistant, select the desired seafood on the healthy foods list, and click on the Submit button. A list containing links to all the World's Healthiest Foods' recipes containing this seafood will appear immediately below.

Research Summary

In this study, lead researcher Pascale Barberger-Gateau and his colleagues at the Université Victor Segalen Bordeaux in Bordeaux, France, evaluated data from the PAQUID (Personnes Agées QUID) epidemiological study of cognitive and functional aging. During this study, investigators visited 1,674 people aged 68 and over, who did not currently have dementia and, at the outset of the study, were living at home in 75 parishes in southwestern France. The researchers recorded how frequently these older people consumed meat and fish or seafood. Participants were then followed for up to seven years afterwards.

During the follow up period, 170 new cases of dementia occurred, including 135 cases of Alzheimer's disease. When the researchers correlated the study subjects’ dietary habits with the incidence of dementia, their consumption of fish or seafood was found to link with a much lower risk for loss of brain function.

Participants who ate fish or seafood at least once a week had a 31% lower risk for developing any type of dementia and a 34% lower risk for developing Alzheimer's disease.

No significant association was found between meat consumption and risk of dementia.

The researchers suggested that the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, particularly cold water fish such as salmon, might reduce inflammation in the brain, and play a part in the regeneration of nerve cells.

Reference: Barberger-Gateau P, Letenneur L, Deschamps V, Pérès K, Dartigues JF, Renaud S.Fish, meat, and risk of dementia: cohort study BMJ 2002;325:932-933.

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