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Seafood and Brain Health

Eat Seafood, Be Happy. Caleb Robbins with a large king salmon.
Eat Seafood, Be Happy. Fisherman Caleb Robbins with a large king salmon. Photo courtesy of SPC Fishermen/owners Caleb and Jessica Robbins.

Eating a meal of Alaska seafood with omega-3 fatty acids may protect against memory loss and thinking problems.

According to a team of researchers at Rush University Medical Center and Wageningen University in the Netherlands, Omega-3s can mitigate age-related cognitive decline.  The study confirmed that cognitive function does indeed decline with age. However, Omega-3s can mitigate some of that decline. Subjects that ate seafood more frequently (at least once per week) had reduced rates of decline in semantic memory (which is memory related to verbal information) and slower rates of decline for perceptual speed, the ability to quickly recognize patterns in objects. The study published in the medical journal Nuerology took place over 5 years with 915 subjects.

It has long been known that the Omega-3s in seafood prevent dementia, but the memory protective association of seafood was even stronger among individuals with a genotype that increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Seafood is a direct nutrient source of a type of Omega-3 fatty acid–DHA–that is a main structural component of the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids encourage brain cell membrane integrity and fluidity. Research suggests that a deficiency in EPA and DHA, long chain Omega-3 fatty acids that are found in seafood, can predispose people to chronic illnesses like Alzheimer’s Disease and impair cognitive function.

In essence, the Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA block the actions of inflammatory chemicals, protecting the brain from harmful toxins that can alter function and distort mood.

Seafood that contains EPA and DHA includes our wild salmon, sablefish and albacore tuna. Each 100g serving of our sablefish portions contains 1787mg of Omega-3s.Our king salmon portions include 1300 mg Omega-3 Fatty Acids per 100 g serving. And our Albacore Tuna Loins have 500mg of Omega-3s per 100g serving.

On top of helping our brain function and improving memory, reducing the decline of cognitive abilities with age, seafood can improve your mood. Several studies in patients being treated medically for depression have reported improved condition of patient by treating with EPA.

In addition to depression, which affects one in 17 American adults, another area in which the Omega-3s in seafood might help is postpartum depression. Childbirth is accompanied by changes in hormones, nutrients, emotions, and stress. During the time after childbirth, there is a sharp fall in omega-3s, particularly DHA, in mothers. Because DHA is an important part of brain structure and function, the sudden loss in DHA may be related to postpartum depression. Women who consume seafood regularly during pregnancy and lactation or who have taken fish oil supplements during pregnancy have much smaller losses in DHA and are less likely to experience postpartum depression. Some studies have shown that women with this condition who consumed EPA and DHA had less severe postpartum depression than women not taking these fatty acids.

So eat seafood and be happy.