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Baked Fish, Not Fried May Reduce Alzheimer's Risk


You may want to add baked fish to your weekly menu to help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. According to a new study presented at the Radiological Society of North America annual meeting, at least one serving of baked or broiled fish per week helps preserve gray matter.

Skip the fried fish for better brain volume

The health benefits of eating fish have largely been credited to its omega-3 fatty acid content and associated with preventing or reducing the risk of macular degeneration, depression, osteoporosis, high cholesterol, and arthritis. Now, according to Cyrus Raji, MD, PhD, from the University of Pittsburgh (UP) Medical Center and the UP School of Medicine, this new study is the first “to establish a direct relationship between fish consumption, brain structure and Alzheimer’s risk.”

Studies regarding nutrition, diet and Alzheimer’s risk have indicated that the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fish, olive oil, vegetables, and fruits, is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. This latest study was very specific: it set out to determine whether eating fish prepared in certain ways preserved brain gray matter volume and if such preservation was then associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline over 5 years.

Preservation of gray matter is critical for optimal brain function. Any decline in gray matter indicates that brain cells are shrinking, and such shrinkage is a major characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.

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The researchers evaluated 260 individuals with normal cognition who had participated in the Cardiovascular Health Study and gathered information about their fish consumption. Information on each subject’s brain was collected using 3-D volumetric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a brain-mapping technique.

A total of 163 participants ate fish on a weekly basis, and most of them ate fish one to four times per week. After controlling for factors such as age, gender, education, race, obesity, physical activity, and the presence or absence of a gene (ApoE4) that increases a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, Raji noted that “people who consumed baked or broiled fish at least one time per week had better preservation of gray matter volume on MRI in brain areas at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.”

More specifically, eating fish reduced the risk over five years that individuals would decline to mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease. Raji also explained that “consuming baked or broiled fish promotes stronger neurons in the brain’s gray matter by making them larger and healthier.” The same could not be said about eating fried fish, however.

Including broiled or baked fish at least once a week in the diet is a simple lifestyle action people can take that may reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Radiological Society of North America news release

Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons



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