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Fish and Nuts May Not Improve Cognition

Update Date: Sep 25, 2013 05:54 PM EDT

Fish and nuts may not actually improve cognition, according to a new study.

While previous studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fatty fish like salmon and in nuts, may help boost thinking skills, a new study reveals that omega-3 fatty acids may actually have no benefit at all when it comes to improving cognition.

"There has been a lot of interest in omega-3s as a way to prevent or delay cognitive decline, but unfortunately our study did not find a protective effect in older women. In addition, most randomized trials of omega-3 supplements have not found an effect," study author Eric Ammann, MS, of the University of Iowa in Iowa City, said in a news release. "However, we do not recommend that people change their diet based on these results. Researchers continue to study the relationship between omega-3s and the health of the heart, blood vessels, and brain. We know that fish and nuts can be healthy alternatives to red meat and full-fat dairy products, which are high in saturated fats."

The latest study involved 2,157 women age 65 to 80 who were enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative clinical trials of hormone therapy. The women were given tests of thinking and memory skills every year for an average of six year. Blood tests were also taken to measure the amount of omega-3s in the participants' blood.

The findings revealed no difference between the women with high and low levels of omega-3s in the blood at the time of the first memory tests. Researchers also found no difference between the two groups in how fast their thinking skills declined over time.

The findings are published in the journal Neurology

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