Health Tips: Eating Fish, Chicken, and Nuts May Lower Risk of Alzheimer's Disease

A new study published in the online issue of Neurology suggests that eating foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, chicken, salad dressing, and nuts, may be associated with lower blood levels of a protein related to Alzheimer’s disease and memory problems.

For the study, 1,219 people older than age 65 and free of dementia provided information about their diet for an average of 1.2 years before their blood was tested for beta-amyloid. Researchers looked specifically at ten nutrients, including saturated fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated acids, mono-unsaturated fatty acid, vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin B12, folate, and vitamin D.

“While it’s not easy to measure the level of beta-amyloid deposits in the brain in this type of study, it is relatively easy to measure the levels of beta-amyloid in the blood, which, to a certain degree, relates to the level in the brain,” said study author Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD, MS, with Columbia University Medical Center in New York and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study found that the more omega-3 fatty acids a person took in, the lower their blood beta-amyloid levels. Consuming one gram of omega-3 per day (equal to approximately 3 ounces of salmon fillet per week) more than the average omega-3 consumed by people in the study is associated with 20 to 30 percent lower blood beta-amyloid levels.