We’ve long known about the waist-slimming benefits of fish oil, as well as the wonders it can do for our heart health. Now, new research out of Ireland has found one extra reason to keep those fishy supplements close at hand: The nutrients in the oil could also go a long way in slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
The 18-month study published this June in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease looked into the effects of nutritional compounds in salmon, spinach, peppers, and other common foods on patients diagnosed with mild and advanced-stage Alzheimer’s. Trials conducted by Nutrition Research Center Ireland (NRCI) in collaboration with University Hospital Waterford used two formulas: one containing macular carotenoids (plant-based pigments known to improve eyesight) and another mixing the carotenoids with a specifically designed fish oil.
According to the study, patients who took the fish oil supplement retained their cognitive abilities, with carers even reporting improvements in sight, memory, and mood.
“We know from several large population-based studies that nutrition is a key factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, but attempts to identify an exact combination of nutrients that can positively impact on brain health have failed — until now,” John Nolan, NRCI’s founder and leader of the study, said in a press release. “This work identifies a unique way to enhance the localized nutrients of the brain. Given our growing and aging population, and importantly, that we live in a time where the nutritional value of foods continues to decline, I believe this is a valuable discovery that will challenge perceptions worldwide about the role of nutrition on brain function.”
Researchers said further study is needed, with future trials expected to observe how people with Alzheimer’s disease can obtain enough nutrients from a healthy, balanced diet to protect their brains.
“A supplement [that] we know is safe, inexpensive, and effective could be life-changing for the millions affected by this disease,” Dr. Alan Howard, inventor of the Cambridge Diet and one of the study’s authors, said in a press release.
Now, that’s brain food we can get behind.