London: Including oily fish like salmon and trout in one’s diet can significantly improve memory by almost 15 percent and help prevent the onset of dementia, a new study has found.
Welma Stonehouse and her team from the Massey University in New Zealand gave supplements containing DHA, an Omega-3 fatty acid found in foods such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, prawns and mussels, to 176 healthy adults over a period of six months.
During this time memory and cognitive function were assessed and compared to a placebo group.
After treatment, memory, working memory and speed of working memory all showed significant improvements.
It is believed that DHA could be key in preventing Alzheimer’s disease, one of the most common forms of dementia, characterised by a decline in mental abilities, such as memory and reasoning and often associated with increasing age.
“This is the first robust study to show that a DHA-rich supplement can improve some aspects of memory functioning in young healthy adults,” the Daily Mail quoted Stonehouse as saying.
“The cognitive functions shown to be affected by the DHA-rich fish oil, namely memory and working memory, are among the most important functions of our brains for numerous everyday activities, such as working, driving, shopping, studying, playing sports, etc.
“Maintaining brain health and getting your brain to perform at its optimal capacity is just as vital as maintaining physical wellbeing and health,” she said.
DHA, is one of the most highly concentrated fats in the brain and known to play a vital role in the structure and functioning of the brain, but as the body cannot effectively make this fatty acid it must be consumed as part of the diet.
The researchers also highlighted that as many people fail to eat enough fish and seafood, the brain’s performance is potentially compromised.
The study showed that male participants who took a DHA supplement demonstrated 15 percent faster working memory while women had a seven percent improvement in the speed of episodic memory.
“These findings contribute to the growing body of research showing that omega-3’s play a very important role in brain function throughout the life cycle, even in healthy cognitively intact individuals,” she added.