The claim of fish being brain food might be true after all. A new study, presented at the Experimental Biology 2014 meeting, concluded that low dietary intake of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids can foresee cognitive decline.
Previous studies have shown the importance of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) to brain health. Now researchers from Tufts University in Medford, MA were interested in whether low PUFAs alpha-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA) are risk factors for cognitive decline.
The researchers conducted a longitudinal, observational study using the Boston Puerto Rican Health Study cohort. In the study, 895 participants were put through a series set of cognitive tests. These included an attention test to repeat lists of numbers forward and backward, and tests of organization and planning that involved copying complex figures. For the two-year follow-up, the tests were repeated.
The participants also answered questionnaires involving their dietary intake. It is recommended that people consume approximately 1,750 milligrams or eight ounces of long-chained omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA per week.
First, it was found that the study group had a low intake of omega-3 PUFAs. Only 27 percent of the participants met the recommended weekly intake. Majority of EPA and DHA came from canned tuna. The researchers also found that participants who were in the lowest four quintiles of EPA and DHA intake were the most likely to show signs of cognitive decline over the two-year study period.
While more research is needed to determine whether intake of fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and trout can help prevent against cognitive decline, our preliminary data support previous research showing that intake of these types of fish have health benefits,” Lead author Tammy Scott, PhD, a scientist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University said.
She believes these results prove that long-chain fatty acids are vital for keeping great cognitive health; however, many Americans do not consume enough of the polyunsaturated fatty acids.