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Attention all women living in areas of high pollution: a recent study published in the journal Neurology has uncovered a link between reduced levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood and increased brain shrinkage.
The study, involving over 1,300 women averaging 70 years of age, with no dementia at the time of the study, completed diet questionnaires to calculate how much fatty fish each person consumed (with the exception of fried fish, as frying has been found to damage fatty acids). The study subjects were then given blood tests to measure the omega-3 fatty acid content in their red blood cells.
The findings show that women with higher omega-3 fatty acid content in their blood preserved greater amounts of white matter in the brain.
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Additionally, the correlation was seen between higher levels of pollution in each individual’s home region and lower levels of brain volume. These findings suggest that increasing the consumption of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help preserve brain volume in older women and potentially aid the brain in battling toxic air pollution. However, researchers also warn that many fish are high in environmental toxins and recommend consulting with a physician before increasing the amount of fish in one’s diet.
To source fish sustainably, check out seafoodwatch.org. They also have a downloadable app so you can easily consult while shopping.