Omega 3s can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by almost half. This is the result of a new US study. The culprit is the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, which is found in particular in tuna, salmon and the like. However, more and more fish are contaminated with heavy metals, so what to do? What foods to eat instead?
Fish is considered an extremely healthy food. The omega-3 fatty acids it contains not only have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, but also stimulate metabolism, protect the heart and lower blood lipid levels. A US research group has now found that a certain omega-3 fatty acid can do even more: by consuming what is known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the risk of developing Alzheimer’s can be reduced by 49%. It is contained in particular in fish. But fish isn’t as healthy as it used to be.
Omega-3 fatty acids: brief overview
There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is found mainly in plants, and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are found in algae and fatty fish such as eel, carp, salmon or sardines happen. According to the latest research findings, DHA is expected to be helpful in the fight against Alzheimer’s. At least as a preventative measure, in other words: if you consume appropriate foods that contain DHA early and regularly. Researchers at the Fatty Acid Research Institute in South Dakota found this out.1
Omega-3 fatty acid DHA against Alzheimer’s
For the study, blood was drawn from 1,490 people aged 65 and over without dementia and tested for their DHA levels in order to establish a link with Alzheimer’s disease or people carrying the ApoE4 gene mutation. Having this gene doubles the risk of developing dementia.
They compared the DHA levels of people who later developed Alzheimer’s with the DHA levels of people who didn’t develop the disease. The result: People with high levels of omega-3 DHA had a 49% lower risk of mental decline. The research team also estimates that people who maintain high levels of DHA live 4.7 years longer without Alzheimer’s.
The results support the older study
The study therefore confirms what a 2006 study found: At that time, the parents of the people examined today were the center of attention.2 Even then, after measuring brain volume and cognitive performance, the result was that participants with a high DHA level had a 47% lower risk of developing dementia than participants with lower DHA levels.
Is fish really that healthy?
Since docosahexaenoic acid is found particularly in oily fish such as eels, sardines, salmon or carp, researchers recommend eating fish more often. But is fish really that healthy? The answer is: not necessarily. Studies show that conventional fish can be heavily contaminated with heavy metals such as aluminum, lead or mercury.3 If these also accumulate in our bodies, the result can be chronic diseases and dementia. So, if you really want to do something good for your cognitive health, you should really take care of your omega-3 family. But in the right way.
Also interesting: which fish can you eat without hesitation?
Optimal supply of omega 3 without fish
Now many are probably wondering how else to supply the body with docosahexaenoic acid if fish is not the best solution. You should know why these fish contain a lot of omega-3 fatty acids: because they eat algae. Algae are therefore the original source of EPA and DHA. So, if you want to meet your omega-3 needs on a regular basis, you can rely on algae oil based food supplements.
Furthermore, the human body is able to convert the alpha-lenolenic acid omega-3 fatty acid into EPA and DHA. A study on the DHA levels of vegans was able to show that the blood levels of omega-3s did not differ significantly from those who did not avoid fish.4 It therefore pays to replenish your diet with lots of ALA-containing foods.
Also Interesting: What Do Fish Oil Capsules Really Do For Your Health?
Foods rich in omega 3
But which foods contain a particularly high amount of omega-3 fatty acids? Here is a small list of ALA, EPA and DHA:
EPA and DHA
- 1. Sala-Vila, A., Satizabal, CL, Tintle, N. (2022). Red blood cell DHA is inversely associated with the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia from all causes: Framingham’s offspring study. Nutrients.
- 2. Schaefer, EJ, Bongard, V., Beiser, AS (2006). Docosahexaenoic acid content of plasma phosphatidylcholine and risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: the Framingham Heart Study. Arci Neur.
- 3. Bosch, AC, O’Neill, B., Sigge, GO (2015). Heavy Metals in Marine Fish Meat and Consumer Health: A Review. Journal of Food Science and Agriculture.
- 4. Welch, AA, Shakya-Shrestha, A., Lentjes, MA (2010). Dietary intake and status of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in a population of carnivores and non-carnivores, vegetarians and vegans and product-precursor ratio [corrected] of α-linolenic acid to long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: results from the EPIC-Norfolk cohort. I’m J Clin Nutr.