Eating Fish, Nuts May Not Help Older Women’s Thinking Skills

A new study published online in September in Neurology suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may not benefit older women’s thinking skills as previously thought.

“There has been a lot of interest in omega-3s as a way to prevent or delay cognitive decline, but unfortunately our study didn’t find a protective effect in older women. In addition, most randomized trials of omega-3 supplements haven’t found an effect,” says study author Eric Ammann, MS, of the University of Iowa in Iowa City. “However, we don’t recommend that people change their diet based on these results. 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 healthful alternatives to red meat and full-fat dairy products, which are high in saturated fats.”

The study involved 2,157 women aged 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 blood levels of omega-3s at the time of the first memory tests. There also was no difference between the two groups in how fast their thinking skills declined over time.

Source: American Academy of Neurology