Omega-3s reduce risk of brain infarcts

Omega-3s reduce risk of brain infarcts

Cognitive decline can be brought on by small brain lesions that are found in more than one-fifth of otherwise healthy adults over age 65. These brain abnormalities can only be detected by a brain scan and can remain unfound in many seniors. However, studies show that adults who consume high levels of omega-3s are at a significantly reduced risk of such problems.

Correlation between fatty acids and brain infarcts
Research conducted at the University of Eastern Finland showed that of more than 2,000 participants, those who had high levels of fatty acid were less likely to have brain infarcts. Infarcts are small lesions that can cause cognitive problems, such as memory loss and dementia. The scientists concluded that a high omega-3 content in the blood reduced risk of these defects by 40 percent.

Further, a study published in the journal Neurology found similar links between fish consumption and brain abnormalities. More than 3,500 adults over the age of 65 were surveyed about the amount of seafood they ate weekly and participated in a brain scan.

According to the data, individuals who reported eating fish three or more times per week were 26 percent less likely to have brain infarcts. Those who ate fish once a week had a 13 percent lower risk of lesions. Fish such as salmon, sardines and anchovies contain high levels of DHA and EPA, omega-3s that are essential to health.

"While eating tuna and other types of fish seems to help protect against memory loss and stroke, these results weren't found in people who regularly ate fried fish," said Jyrki Virtanen, Ph.D., the study's author. "More research is needed as to why these types of fish may have protective effects, but the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA would seem to have a major role."

Both studies also showed that high levels of polyunsaturated acids helped to preserve the brain's white matter, which is connected to the body's central nervous system. High levels of omega-3s were directly correlated to fewer changes in white matter.

For older adults concerned about preserving their cognitive ability, a fish oil supplement could help boost fatty acid levels. Omax3 is an ultra-pure omega-3 supplement that contains an ideal ratio of EPA to DHA. In addition to preventing brain infarcts, omega-3s have also been linked to reduced inflammation in sore joints.