WEDNESDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Eating baked or broiled fish as little as once a week may boost brain health and lower the risk for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease, new brain scan research suggests.
The study authors found that eating baked and broiled fish -- but not fried -- helps to preserve gray matter neurons, strengthening them in areas of the brain deemed critical to memory and cognition.
"Those who eat baked or broiled fish had larger brains," noted study author Dr. Cyrus Raji, a resident in the department of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Mercy Hospital. "They had larger brain cells in areas of the brain responsible for memory and learning. And the reason that's important is that these brain areas are at high risk for Alzheimer's disease."
In those people with larger brain volume, "the risk for Alzheimer's and mild cognitive impairment went down by fivefold within five years following the brain scans we conducted," he said.
Raji said he was "amazed" that this effect was seen with eating fish as little as one to four times a week. "We're talking about just a half serving a day," he said. "And that would be a very small lifestyle change that can affect disease risk a long time down the line."
Raji and his colleagues are slated to discuss their findings Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, in Chicago.
More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, an incurable, age-related disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking and language skills. Older adults with mild cognitive impairment have less severe memory loss than those with Alzheimer's but often go on to develop the disease.
To assess the impact of fish on cognitive health, the authors focused on 260 mentally healthy elderly individuals drawn from the Cardiovascular Health Study, sponsored by th
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