Is fish really good for your brain?

We’ve all heard it all our lives: “fish is good for your brain“,   “Fish is brain food“,  “Fish makes you smart“.   The folk wisdom goes back at least 2000 years, and probably quite a bit further.

But what’s the reality?

A University of Pittsburgh study has revealed that frequent fish-eaters were less likely to experience brain-cell death in the pre-frontal cortex — the part of the brain responsible for short-term and working memory.   These fish-eaters who avoid losing brain cells in the pre-frontal cortex are less likely to experience Alzheimer’s and other diseases associated with cognitive decline.

The study, which involved 260 people of an average age of 71, showed that eating fish reduced the probability of test-subjects developing Alzheimer’s.  Cyrus Raji, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, put the results starkly:

“if you don’t eat fish, brain cells [die].

47% [of non fish-eaters] developed Alzheimer’s disease or [cognitive impairment] over the next five years.

Compare that 47% number with the mere 3% of regular fish-eaters who went on to develop Alzheimer’s or experience cognitive impairment.

That’s no small difference.

It is widely believed, although not yet conclusively proven, that the cognitive benefits of eating fish come from omega-3 fatty acids.

It’s also important to note, that fried fish did not appear to confer the same health-benefits.   The benefits were only conferred to regular eaters of baked or broiled fish.

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