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Eating Fish May Cut Risk of Brain Abnormalities

Update Date: Oct 17, 2013 02:07 PM EDT

Eating lots of fish may help protect older people from brain abnormalities, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that older people with higher blood levels of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid were less likely to suffer small brain infarcts.

The latest study analyzed data from 3,660 people aged 65 and older who underwent brain scans to detect silent brain infarcts, or small lesions in the brain that can lead to loss of thinking skills, dementia and stroke.

Brain scans were performed again five years later on in 2,313 of the participants.

The findings reveal silent brain infarcts in 20 percent of otherwise healthy people in the study.

Researchers discovered that people who had high long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid content in blood had about 40 percent lower risk of having small brain infarcts compared to people with low content of these fatty acids in blood. People with high long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid content in blood also had fewer changes in the white matter in their brains, according to researchers.

Previous studies on the same participants revealed similar findings between those with high or low consumption of fish. Researchers explained that high content of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in blood is a marker for high intake of fatty fish.

Researchers said the latest findings support previous studies that eating fish can help boost and protect brain health in old age.

The findings are published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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