Can Eating Fish Really Help Your Brain?

Dementia, primarily Alzheimer’s Disease, is a growing problem world wide and throughout Europe and North America. With the aging population, and the lengthening of a person’s years working, this trend is of particular concern. Why? Because early detection may result in cure, or slowing down the progression of the dementia. This is a disease that is critically important to prevent if possible.

Good news has recently come from the University of Pittsburgh, that found that eating fish seemed to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. This cohort study looked at 260 cognitively normal adults and followed them over time. Fish consumption was assessed using a food frequency questionnaire. The end-point that the researchers used was the amount of gray matter volume in the brain, as measured by MRI. The authors also looked at a measurement of working memory.

The researchers found that people who consumed baked or broiled fish on a weekly basis tended to have a better preservation of their brain gray matter volume, compared to people who rarely ate boiled or baked fish. The working memory was also improved in those who ate the boiled or baked fish.

Important to note is that the consumption of fried fish was not associated with a lower risk of gray matter volume loss or decline in working memory. Baking or boiling appears to be the preferred strategy if the goal is to protect brain health.

This study remains preliminary as it has not yet undergone full peer-review. Still, it confirms similar findings that have been seen in heart disease patients. There remains a concern for mercury contamination of fish, and also the value of frying a fish compared to preparing it another way. In the case of fish, what is good for the heart, also appears to positively affect the brain.


American Medical Association Guide to Preventing and Treating Heart Disease: Essential Information You and Your Family Need to Know about Having a Healthy Heart [2008].

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