Fish for Breakfast

Eating fish helps keep the brain healthy.

By Rachael Moeller Gorman|Saturday, March 01, 2003

Break out the tartar sauce and start frying up the cod: Pascale Barberger-Gateau of Victor Segalen Bordeaux University in southwestern France and his colleagues report that people who eat at least one serving of seafood a week are less likely to develop dementia later in life.

The researchers gathered diet information from 1,674 dementia-free senior citizens and then spent seven years checking up on the subjects and testing their mental capacities. People who ate more seafood than average—at least one serving a week—had a 30 percent lower risk of developing dementia than those who followed a diet relatively low in fish.

Barberger-Gateau suspects the polyunsaturated fatty acids in fish reduce inflammation in the brain and may aid neural regeneration. His team also discovered that dementia occurs less often among highly educated people, a conclusion supported by other studies.

Many scientists have hypothesized that exercising the brain helps reduce the mental effects of aging, but there may be a second influence at work. More highly educated people tend to eat more fish, both because they can afford it and because they are more likely to adhere to dietary recommendations.

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