Much of the study of longevity is about keeping your body healthy – that you should exercise regularly and eat healthier foods to prevent your arteries and joints from rusting. But what’s a healthy body without a healthy mind?
Well, there’s increasing research about how to keep your brain from rusting, too. A new study, reported by Matt McMillen over at Time.com, has found that blood levels of omega-3s are related to brain size and memory loss. What does that mean? The more healthy fats you eat, the less likely you are to experience premature brain aging and memory problems in late middle-age. People with the lowest blood levels of omega-3s were found to be the most likely to develop degenerative brain conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia; they scored more poorly when tested on abstract reasoning and visual memory, and were also likely to have smaller brain volumes. (And in a happy correlation, people with higher levels of omega-3s in their blood are also more likely to have healthy hearts.)
The study’s authors stopped short of making clinical recommendations, but current U.S. guidelines already recommend 8 ounces of seafood each week for heart health. For omega-3s, your best bet is fatty fishes like salmon and mackerel (though it’s worth keeping an eye on potential mercury contamination when you’re eating fish on the regular), and nuts and seeds like walnuts and flax. In other studies, omega-3s have also been linked to anti-cancer and anti-arthritic properties. So what’s not to like?