People who eat fish, fruits and vegetables regularly may be lowering their risk of dementia, say French researchers.
In this study, 8,085 healthy men and women over the age of 65 were tracked for four years using questionnaires about their diet, health and lifestyle habits. Regular fish, fruit and vegetable consumption were found to have independent protective effects against dementia.
People who ate fruits and vegetables everyday were found to have a 28 percent lower risk of dementia than those who ate these foods less frequently. Researchers believe that the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables - vitamin C, vitamin A and beta-carotene - may protect the brain against oxidative damage that can lead to memory decline. Good sources of antioxidants are broccoli, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash and romaine lettuce. Canada's Food Guide recommends eating at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day.
Fish and high intake of omega-3 fats were also linked to reduced dementia risk, with one exception. The beneficial effects of fish and omega-3 fats didn't seem to affect the risk of Alzheimer's for people with a family history of the disease. Omega-3 fats are known to have anti-inflammatory effects, which may explain why they protect against Alzheimer's and other diseases related to inflammation. The researchers suggest eating fish at least once a week and using oils like canola, flaxseed and walnut to add omega-3 fats to your diet.
Health Canada recommends eating at least two servings of fish per week, particularly oily fish such as char, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines and trout. One serving is equal to 2.5 oz of fresh fish or half a cup of (125 ml) of canned fish.
This study adds to mounting evidence that fish and fruits and vegetables are good for the brain.
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