If you can’t remember when you last had fish for dinner, maybe your brain is reminding you to serve some up soon. Research suggests that eating fish appears to be associated with boosting memory and cognitive skills long-term.
Fish and brain health
Eating more fish regularly is always a good practice, especially for brain health. Likely you are familiar with a type of fat called omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are known for heart health and excellent for maintaining a healthy brain. One of the omega-3 fatty acids is called docosahexaenoic acid or DHA, is essential for good brain functioning. DHA is required to keep the brain functioning normally and efficiently. Your brain and nervous system tissues contain fat; research indicates they prefer DHA.
To make sure you are obtaining sufficient DHA in your diet, be sure always to put fish on your shopping list. Research has shown that maintaining adequate levels of DHA in the body is essential for good mental health, as low levels of this nutrient have been associated with an increased risk of developing serious cognitive problems, including Alzheimer’s disease. The longer you have included fish in your weekly meal plans, the better you are likely to have improved memory, learning ability and reduced rates of cognitive decline.
In addition to eating more fish, you can include other sources of DHA-rich foods, such as fish oil, algae supplements, or other DHA-fortified foods, in your diet.
How much fish to eat
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations for adults is to consume at least two servings of fish per week, with each serving being 4 ounces or 113 grams. Consuming oily or fatty fish for their high DHA content is best. Some examples of such fish include salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, herring, and farmed trout. When cooking these fish, try grilling or broiling them instead of deep frying them, as the extra fat from frying is counterproductive to lean protein. Other top choices of fish high in DHA include Alaska salmon and sardines. Meanwhile, shark and swordfish are choices to avoid due to high mercury levels.
Regular fish consumption also boosts heart health
Besides being good sources of DHA omega-3 fatty acids, fatty fish are a lean protein source. When you eat at least a couple of servings of fish weekly instead of a greasy burger, you will choose a protein source lower in unhealthy saturated fat and higher in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to benefiting your brain, it has been shown that omega-3s can also have a positive impact on the health of your heart helping reduce blood pressure and heart attack risk.
What about people who are vegans?
If you are a vegan and do not eat any animal/fish sources of protein, you may be wondering how to obtain DHA. Algae is a rich vegetarian source of DHA omega-3 fatty acids and is used in the production of vegetarian DHA supplements. Other sources of ALA, another omega-3 fatty acid the body converts into DHA, include ground flaxseed, walnuts, and chia seeds. However, your body may only convert about 5 percent of ALA to DHA.
If your primary intake source of omega-3s comes from vegetable sources or non-oily fish, consider speaking to your doctor or registered dietitian about supplementation.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncolo gy and prostate cancer 911.