In the News: Omega oils keep your brain healthy

According to a new study from the National Institute for Health and Medical research in France a diet which is rich in omega-3 oils, fruit and vegetables as well as fish may reduce the risk of dementia in elderly people. But a diet too high in omega 6 fats could double the risk.

The researchers carried out a four-year study involving 8,085 men and women all residents of Montpellier, Dijon and Bordeaux. They were examined for signs of dementia and asked to complete a questionnaire about their eating habits and then two years later and the psychiatric examination was repeated. All the participants were over 65 at the start of the study and did not have dementia but over the four-year period, 183 people developed Alzheimer’s disease, while another 98 developed a type of dementia.


The researchers took a closer look at the eating habits of those who took part and found that a diet rich in omega-3 oils (which most of the participants got through oily fish, flaxseed and walnut oil salad dressing) was associated with a 60% drop in dementia risk; there was also a 30% drop in dementia risk among regular fruit and vegetable eaters. The researchers also found that regular fish consumption reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s by 35% in those who did not have a known genetic risk factor for the disease.


However, those with an ‘unbalanced diet’ who overloaded with omega 6 oils such as sunflower and grape seed oil in preference to omega 3 were twice as likely to develop dementia. A balanced diet should contain a balanced ratio of fats because eating too high amounts of omega 6 polyunsaturated fats can lead to lower levels of omega 3 fats being absorbed.


The study appears in the November 13, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

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