Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for humans. Consuming the proper amounts of omega-3s helps to lower your risk of coronary heart disease and improves your cholesterol. Some studies are even looking at omega-3s as possible treatments for cancer, depression, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Now, a new study has found two more reasons why you should add more seafood to your diet: diets rich in fish might help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, and the mercury that is found in fish does not lead to cognitive decline.
Since omega-3s are not naturally occurring in our bodies, we have to acquire them through the foods that we eat, and seafood is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Two of the omega-3s found in seafood are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Low DHA levels have been linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and memory loss, and one study found that animals who were fed EPA fish oil showed improved memory function. Learn about five foods that benefit your brain.
This new study looked at people who were genetically at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, based on the fact that they had the apolipoprotein (APOE) gene variant that has been linked to Alzheimer’s. Participants who had this variant who ate one or more fish meals a week had less instances of Alzheimer’s damage to their brains later in life than those who did not eat much fish.
Researchers also looked at the amount of mercury in the brains of people who consume moderate amounts of seafood. This study confirmed that people who eat more seafood do have slightly more mercury in their brains. However, researchers found absolutely no evidence that higher levels of mercury in the brain were connected with the kind of brain damage that is usually seen in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. They concluded that seafood can be safely consumed without the fear of mercury causing any sort of cognitive decline.
So if you’re a seafood lover, continue to enjoy your favorite fish dishes! If you don’t eat a lot of seafood, now might be the time to try out some new recipes. As with any change to your diet, always talk to your doctor before you start or stop anything new. For most people, seafood is a great way to get the omega-3 fatty acids that our bodies need.