A handful of studies recently published tout the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids, which are most commonly found naturally in fish. The studies found that omega 3 may improve brain and memory performance as we age. Additional research suggests that curvier women and their children are more intelligent than their less-curvier counterparts, which the researchers suggest may be due to omega 3 as well.
A study based on the self-report of more than 2,000 people from Norway aged 70 and older reported that those people who ate more than 10 grams per day of fish had better scores at tests than those who ate less fish each day. This finding was regardless of other factors that may have accounted for the changes in scores, including age, education, and heart health.
“Most cognitive functions were influenced by fish intake,” the authors reported.
Most participants ate fish, and the more fish they ate, the better their test scores were — up to a point. Test scores leveled off for people who ate more than about 2.5 to 2.8 daily ounces of fish. According to the USDA, 3 ounces of fish is about the size of a checkbook.
Another omega 3 study by Dutch researchers examined some 800 people aged between 50 and 70. Participants provided blood samples and took mental skills tests at the study’s start and again three years later.
While all participants’ test scores were lower on the follow-up test, the decrease was smallest in people with the highest blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids at the study’s start.
That pattern held when participants had to quickly respond to mental challenges, but not to general tests of memory, report the researchers.
A New Zealand study of 2,400 people aged 15 and older revealed that there is a strong connection between circulating concentrations of omega 3 fatty acids and physical health. The researchers also discovered a weaker link between omega-3 fatty acids and mental health.
However, in an accompanying editorial of the published study, Dr. Irwin Rosenberg of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University Boston concluded that there cannot be established a direct link between consumption of fish/omega-3-fatty acids and cognitive function.
These three studies were published in November 2007 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Another study published recently suggests that women with curvy figures are likely to be brighter than their thinner, less-curvier counterparts. The study also suggested that such curvier women may also produce more intelligent children.
Researchers studied 16,000 women and girls and found the more voluptuous and curvier women performed better on cognitive tests, as did their children.
The bigger the difference between a woman’s waist and hips the better their cognitive performance on the tests. Researchers speculated this may be due to the prevalence of fatty acids found on the hips.
In the hip area, the fat is likely to be of the omega 3 variety, which could improve the woman’s own mental abilities as well as those of her child during pregnancy.
Men respond to the double enticement of both an intelligent partner and an intelligent child, the researchers at the Universities of Pittsburgh and California said.
The study was published in the October 2007 issue of Evolution and Human Behavior.
Although none of these studies examined omega 3 intake solely through supplements rather than how they naturally occur in fish, such supplements are available to people who do not regularly eat fish.