A diet sufficient in omega-3 fatty acids helps reduce the risk of memory loss, research finds.
People with low levels of fatty acids score worse on tests of memory, attention and problem solving.
People’s brain volume is also affected, said Dr Zaldy S. Tan, the study’s first author:
“People with lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids had lower brain volumes that were equivalent to about two years of structural brain aging.”
The most important omega-3 fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, known as EPA and DHA.
Even healthy young people can improve their memory by increasing their omega-3 intake, other research finds.
This study, though, included 1,575 older adults who were all free of dementia.
They were given tests of their memory, attention and problem-solving, as well as levels of DHA and EPA in their bloodstream.
The results showed that those in the bottom 25% for fatty acid levels had lower brain volumes and had poorer scores on cognitive tests.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Neurology (Tan et al., 2012).