OMEGA-3 can lower the risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s, a study has suggested.
The Hospital del Mar Research Institute in Barcelona found that people with high levels of the fatty acid in their blood had a lower chance of developing the debilitating brain condition.
The research was carried out alongside the Fatty Acid Research Institute in the US and the CIBER of Obesity and Nutrition Physiopathology (CIBEROBN).
The experts analysed more than 260,000 people from the UK Biobank database.
The volunteers were divided into age groups of 40 to 50, 50 to 60 and 60 and over.
Their levels of different types of omega-3 were tracked to “study whether having high levels of omega-3 at age 50 can help prevent the onset of dementia many years later,” explained Aleix Sala-Vila, lead researcher at the Hospital del Mar Research Institute.
The study took into account the participants’ age, sex, education level and genetic characteristics associated with a greater risk of Alzheimer’s.
The research concluded that high levels of omega-3 are associated with lower risk of both dementia and Alzheimer’s for all age groups, and both men and women.
Omega-3s are a group of fatty acids found in oily fish and certain shellfish.
However they are also found in some plant sources such as soybeans, walnuts and flax seeds.
The type of omega 3 for which the most benefits have historically been found is docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is found mainly in oily fish.
However the latest study has found there are still benefits from other omega 3s, such as those found in walnuts.
Other sources include, chia seeds, spinach and Brussels sprouts
Scientists hope to uncover more details about how and which omega-3s can help protect brain health.