A study published recently in the medical journal Neurology (the official medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology) claims that omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and nuts, may not be as beneficial to cognitive function as we may have previously thought. This is pretty big news, and maybe it will put an end to those over the top new planter’s peanut ads. Calm. Down.
Researcher Eric Ammann, MS, of University of Iowa explained the results in a press release. “There has been a lot of interest in omega-3s as a way to prevent or delay cognitive decline, but unfortunately our study did not find a protective effect in older women. In addition, most randomized trials of omega-3 supplements have not found an effect.” He added that they do not suggest a change in diet is necessary due to the fact that “Researchers continue to study the relationship between omega-3s and the health of the heart, blood vessels, and brain. We know that fish and nuts can be healthy alternatives to red meat and full-fat dairy products, which are high in saturated fats.” So, fish and nuts may not be the superfood we have thought them to be, but they still are healthier than some alternatives.
The study involved 2,157 women age 65 to 80 who were enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative clinical trials of hormone therapy. The women were given annual tests of thinking and memory skills for an average of six years. Blood tests were taken to measure the amount of omega-3s in the participants’ blood before the start of the study. The researchers found no difference between the women with high and low levels of omega-3s in the blood at the time of the first memory tests. There was also no difference between the two groups in how fast their thinking skills declined over time.
It’s also important to note that this is not a definitive study on the make-up of Omega-3s, they are quite complex and in need of further research to determine what benefits they actually deliver. However, if salmon encrusted in nuts isn’t your ideal dinner, you’ll probably be just fine!