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It’s no secret that fish is a superfood, but now there’s evidence that the oil inside of these sea creatures can actually keep your brain from shrinking.
Medical experts from the University of South Dakota gathered 1,111 postmenopausal women and examined their brain volume (via MRI scans) and red blood cells of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), two fatty acids commonly found in fish. Eight years later, they discovered that the women who had “significantly higher levels” of the fatty acids in the red blood cells also had bigger brains, as well as bigger hippocampuses — 2.7 percent larger — the part of the brain responsible for holding memories.
And since previous studies have found that aging causes the brain to decrease in size, this fishy news — which was published this week in the journal Neurology — is promising. "If achieving a certain red blood cell level of the two major fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids could prevent or delay dementia, that would have huge mental health benefits, especially since levels can be safely and inexpensively raised through diet and supplementation," said study investigator James Pottala, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of South Dakota, as reported by LiveScience.
Pottala added that consuming a non-fried oily fish, like salmon, tuna, herring or sardines, two times a week is powerful enough to produce similar brain results. And if eating fish seems like a nauseating concept, he states that taking fish oil capsules can also be effective. Another healthy food trick — add a tablespoon of the liquid form of an omega-3 oil, like flaxseed oil, to your salad, chicken or smoothie. And for the truly brave, gulp it down raw! While further research is necessary to determine whether or not fish oil can deter dementia or Alzheimer's disease, it sounds like it’s time to add seafood to your must-eat list for 2014.