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Omega-3 fatty acids 'may lower risk of Alzheimer's'

May 03, 2012

Oily fish, chicken and nuts could help to reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease, a US study suggests.

It may be possible to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by eating plenty of foods containing omega-3, new research suggests.

Researchers at Columbia University in the US enrolled a group of 1,219 over-65s to see whether their diet had any influence on the levels of a particular protein in their blood.

Beta-amyloid deposits in the brain have been linked to Alzheimer's disease and although these are hard to measure, blood levels of the protein are thought to act as an indicator of levels in the brain.

The researchers found that people with a high intake of foods containing omega-3 fatty acids throughout the study period tended to have lower levels of beta-amyloid in their blood.

This suggests that foods such as oily fish, chicken and nuts may be beneficial for protecting against Alzheimer's disease and age-related memory loss.

Dr Nikolaos Scarmeas, whose findings are published in Neurology journal, said: "Determining through further research whether omega-3 fatty acids or other nutrients relate to spinal fluid or brain beta-amyloid levels or levels of other Alzheimer's disease-related proteins can strengthen our confidence in beneficial effects of parts of our diet in preventing dementia."

But the Alzheimer's Society's research manager, Dr Anne Corbett, argued that eating the occasional fish supper is not the answer to preventing Alzheimer's disease.

"The best way to reduce your risk of dementia is to regularly eat an all-round balanced diet which could include these foods, as well as exercising often," she advised.

Leading a healthy lifestyle may also reduce a person's chances of needing to rely on their private medical insurance, as it can help to prevent a number of medical conditions.

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