According to a new study published in the November 13, 2007, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, diets rich in fish, omega-3 oils, fruits and vegetables lower the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Choosing the wrong kind of oils, omega-6 rich oils, could provide the opposite results; they may actually increase your chances of developing memory problems.
Researchers in this study examined the diets of 8,085 men and women over the age of 65 who did not have dementia at the beginning of the study. Over four years of follow-up, 183 of the participants developed Alzheimer’s disease and 98 developed another type of dementia. The dietary habits of these over 8,000 people were studied closely.
The study found that people who regularly consumed omega-3 rich oils, such as canola oil, flaxseed oil and walnut oil, reduced their risk of dementia or Alzheimers by 60 percent compared to people who did not regularly consume such oils. People who ate fruits and vegetables daily also reduced their risk of dementia by 30 percent compared to those who didn’t regularly eat fruits and vegetables.
It was also discovered that people who ate fish at least once a week had a 35-percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and a 40-percent lower risk of dementia. This was only if they did not carry the ApoE4 gene that increases the risk of Alzheimer’s. (Most people do not carry the ApoE4 gene, so these results could have considerable implications in terms of public health).
In addition, the study found people who did not carry the ApoE4 gene and consumed an unbalanced diet characterized by regular use of omega-6 rich oils, but not omega-3 rich oils or fish, were twice as likely to develop dementia compared to those who didn’t eat omega-6 rich oils. Omega 6 oils include sunflower or grape seed oil.
“While we’ve identified dietary patterns associated with lowering a person’s risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s, more research is needed to better understand the mechanisms of these nutrients involved in these apparently protective foods,” said the lead author of this study which was supported by the National Agency for Research in France.