Grow your brain with fish oil

You've heard the phrase “fish is brain” food, right?

It’s not just a saying – it’s the truth, because the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are just great for the brain, and new research on the benefits of fish oil shows why: They can slow brain shrink.

If you’re not familiar with “brain shrink,” the phrase alone might seem pretty disturbing.

But it’s actually part of life. All our brains shrink a little as we age.

The real problem is a brain that shrinks faster than normal – because the faster your brain shrinks the more likely you are to suffer from memory loss, cognitive decline, dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, however, and you can slow that shrink, especially in the hippocampus – the region most important to memory and cognition.

Overall, women with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood had 0.7 percent more brain volume than women with the lowest, according to the study in the journal Neurology.

That may sound small, but when it comes to brain volume there’s no such thing as small. Every little bit counts – and that difference of 0.7 percent is actually equivalent to two years of aging.

It’s as if the benefits of  fish oil can slow the aging process, at least in the brain.

And that’s not all fish oil can do to protect your cognition. Another recent study found that high levels of two essential omega-3 fatty acids – DHA and EPA – can reduce the levels of oxidative stress in the brain.

Oxidative stress is the type of damage in the brain that can lead to memory loss and cognitive impairment, putting you on the path toward decline and dementia.

I recommend a serving of fish rich in omega-3s several times a week, but do your homework and make sure you’re eating fish low in mercury such as wild-caught salmon.

But don’t stop there. To really make sure your brain gets what it needs, take an omega-3 supplement every day and you'll start seeing the benefits of fish oil at work.