Eating fish may boost blood flow to the brain which could stave off dementia in later life, researchers have discovered.
The health benefits of a diet rich in omega-3, a fatty acid found in oily fish, have long been suspected, and the findings of two studies into its effects on young people suggest that it can improve reaction times in 18-35 year olds as well as reducing levels of mental fatigue after they perform tough tasks.
Although the results suggest that, contrary to popular belief, taking omega-3 or fish oil supplements may not have an impact on the mental performance of young adults, the researchers at Northumbria University say the increased blood flow to the brain it caused could be important for older people.
Lead researcher Dr Philippa Jackson said: ‘These findings could have implications for mental function later on in life. The evidence suggests that regularly eating oily fish may prevent cognitive decline and dementia, and increased blood flow to the brain may be a mechanism by which this occurs.
'If we can pinpoint both the behavioural and brain blood flow effects of this fatty acid in older healthy people, then the benefits for those with mental degenerative conditions associated with normal ageing could be that much greater.'
Researchers now plan to conduct a study on omega-3 use in people aged 50-70.