Omega 3 can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by almost half. That’s according to a new American study. This is due to the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, which is found mainly in tuna, salmon and co. However, more and more fish are contaminated with heavy metals – so what to do? What foods to eat instead?
Fish is considered an extremely healthy food. The omega-3 fatty acids it contains not only have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, but also speed up metabolism, protect the heart and reduce blood lipid levels. American research team He has now found that a certain omega-3 fatty acid can do even more: By consuming so-called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease can be reduced by 49 percent. It is found mainly in fish. But fish is no longer as healthy as before.
Omega-3 fatty acids – a brief overview
There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is found mainly in plants, and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are found in algae and fatty fish such as eel. , carp, salmon or sardines stand. According to the latest research, DHA should be helpful in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. At least as a precaution – in other words: if you consume suitable foods containing DHA on time and regularly. Researchers at the Fatty Acid Research Institute in South Dakota have now found out.1
Omega-3 fatty acids DHA against Alzheimer’s disease
For the study, blood was taken from 1,490 people aged 65 years or older without dementia and tested for their DHA levels to establish an association with Alzheimer’s disease or people who carry the ApoE4 gene mutation. Having this gene doubles the risk of developing dementia.
They compared DHA levels in people who later developed Alzheimer’s disease with DHA levels in people who did not develop the disease. The result: people with high levels of omega-3 DHA had a 49 percent lower risk of mental decline. The research team also estimates that people who maintain high levels of DHA live 4.7 years longer without Alzheimer’s disease.
The results support an older study
The study thus confirms what the 2006 study found: At that time, the parents of the people surveyed were the focus.2 Even then, after measuring brain volume and cognitive performance, the result was that participants with high DHA had a 47 percent lower risk of developing dementia compared to participants with lower DHA.
Are fish really that healthy?
Because docosahexaenoic acid is found mainly in fatty fish such as eel, sardines, salmon or carp, scientists recommend eating fish more often. But are fish really that healthy? The answer is: not necessarily. Studies show that fish from conventional fisheries can be heavily contaminated with heavy metals such as aluminum, lead or mercury.3 If these also accumulate in our body, they can result in chronic diseases and dementia. So if you really want to do something good for your cognitive health, you should really take care of the household with omega-3s. But in the right way.
Also interesting: Which fish can you eat without hesitation?
Optimal supply of omega 3 without fish
Now, many people are wondering how else to supply docosahexaenoic acid to the body when fish is not the best solution. You should know why these fish contain many omega-3 fatty acids: because they eat algae. Algae are therefore the original source of EPA and DHA. So if you want to have your omega-3 needs covered regularly, you can rely on dietary supplements made from algae oil.
In addition, the human body is able to convert omega-3 fatty acid alpha-lenolenic acid to EPA and DHA. A study of DHA levels in vegans showed that the levels of omega-3 in the blood were not significantly different from those who did not avoid fish.4 It is therefore worthwhile to fill your diet with lots of ALA-containing foods.
Also interesting: What do fish oil capsules really do for your health?
Foods high in omega 3
But which foods contain particularly high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids? Here is a small list of ALA, EPA and DHA:
EPA and DHA
- 1. Sala-Vila, A., Satizabal, CL, Tintle, N. (2022). Red blood cell DHA is indirectly linked to the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia for all reasons: the Framingham Offspring Study. Nutrients.
- 2. Schaefer, EJ, Bongard, V., Beiser, AS (2006). Plasma phosphatidylcholine docosahexaenoic acid content and risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: Framingham Heart Study. Arch Neur.
- 3. Bosch, AC, O’Neill, B., Sigge, GO (2015). Heavy metals in marine fish meat and consumer health: an overview. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.
- 4. Welch, AA, Shakya-Shrestha, A., Lentjes, MA (2010). Dietary intake and status of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the population of carnivorous and non-eating carnivores, vegetarians and vegans and the product-precursor ratio [corrected] α-linolenic acid to n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids: results from the EPIC-Norfolk cohort. Am J Clin Nutr.