People who want to have healthier brains should see to it that they include fish in their weekly diet. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found evidence that eating broiled or baked fish a least once per week can benefit the brain regardless of the amount of omega-3 fatty acid that the fish contains.

For the new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, James Becker, from the Pitt School of Medicine, and colleagues looked at the data of 260 people who participated in the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS), a 10 year study that sought to determine the risk factors for heart disease in individuals who are more than 65 years old.

The study participants, who did not have cognitive problems at the start of the study, were asked to provide information on their dietary intake including how much fish they consume per week and how they prepare it, and went through brain MRI scan.

Based on the participants' data, the researchers found that people who eat broiled or baked fish instead of fried fish tend to have larger brain volumes in the regions of the brain that are linked with cognition and memory.

Becker and colleagues observed that people who eat baked and broiled fish at least once per week had 14 percent more grey matter brain volumes in the parts of the brain known to be associated with cognition and 4.3 percent more grey matter brain volumes in the regions responsible for memory, which the researchers said indicates that eating fish could be one of the lifestyle factors that could prevent the onset of cognitive problems such as Dementia, Alzheimer's disease in particular, which affects many older adults.

Study researcher Cyrus Raji, from the University of California, Los Angeles, said they wanted to know how much fish the participants eat and how they prepared them because baked or broiled fish tend to contain more omega-3 as frying could destroy the fatty acids. The researchers, however, noted that they did not find an association between brain changes and the amount of omega 3 in the participants' blood.

"We did not find a relationship between omega-3 levels and these brain changes, which surprised us a little," Becker said. "It led us to conclude that we were tapping into a more general set of lifestyle factors that were affecting brain health of which diet is just one part." 

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