Fish Oil and Brain Health: Research, Benefits, and Diet

By RanchView Senior Assisted Living
June 19, 2023

Numerous studies have confirmed that eating the right foods can boost your brain health. Among these brain-powering foods is fish oil, due to its high omega-3 fatty acid content. Keep reading to learn more about fish oil and its connection to brain health.

What Does the Research Show?

Professor at the University of California Los Angeles’ Department of Surgery, Dr. Milan Fiala, led a team of researchers in a small-scale study of patients with early stages of cognitive impairment. The study explored the benefits of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids on individuals experiencing cognitive decline. Of the 9 participants, seven were already diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and two patients had mild cognitive impairment.

The study ran from 4 to 17 months, and patients consumed omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil daily. In patients with mild and pre-mild cognitive impairment, the study found an increase in phagocytic activity, indicative of the brain’s improved ability to process and eliminate toxins. Unfortunately, this study did not see a significant improvement in participants already diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease. According to Dr. Milan Fiala, however, more research is needed before conclusions are made. Researchers still hypothesize that omega-3 fatty acids in the form of fish oil have some neuroprotective, and especially Alzheimer’s preventative, capabilities.

What are the Best Ways to Get Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

If you’d prefer not to take fish oil in capsule form, the following foods are a delicious way to increase the amount of omega-3s from your diet.

  • Oysters: Oysters can be eaten as an appetizer, snack, or whole meal. Omega-3 content: 329 mg of EPA and DHA (combined) in 391 mg per 3.5 ounces (100 grams)
  • Mackerel: Mackerel is a small, fatty fish, incredibly rich in nutrients. Omega-3 content:4,580 mg of EPA and DHA (combined) in 3.5 ounces (100 grams).
  • Cod Liver Oil: Cod liver oil is taken exclusively as a supplement. Omega-3 content: 2,438 mg of EPA and DHA (combined) per tablespoon.
  • Sardines: For an added nutrient boost, sardines can be used in place of tuna in a sandwich. Omega-3 content: 1,463 mg of EPA and DHA (combined) per cup (149 grams) of canned Atlantic sardines, or 982 mg per 3.5 ounces (100 grams).
  • Salmon: Research shows that people who regularly eat salmon and other fatty fish have a lower risk of depression and dementia. Omega-3 content: 2,150 mg of EPA and DHA (combined) in 3.5 ounces.
  • Herring: Herring is often smoked and eaten cold for breakfast. Omega-3 content: 2,150 mg of EPA and DHA (combined) in 3.5 ounces (100 grams).

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