The news about the healthy properties of omega-3 Fatty acids continues to grow. They are already well known for their ability to protect the heart and blood vessels. Recent research has expanded our knowledge and determined they have the important and profound ability to reduce age-related decline. This finding proves the long held belief that brain shrinkage is progressive and not reversible is incorrect. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to protect nerve cells and have anti-depressant capabilities.
A new study determined that people in the later decades of life who consumed more omega-3 fatty acids, have increased gray matter volume and that most new brain tissue developed occurred in the portion of the brain associated with happiness.
The study involved assessing the dietary history of 55 healthy adults. The consumption of omega-3 fatty acids was categorized, and the gray matter volumes in an emotional brain circuitry comprised of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), amygdala and hippocampus were calculated using MRI.
Region of interest analyses revealed positive associations between reported dietary omega-3 intake and gray matter volume in the subgenual ACC, the right hippocampus and the right amygdala, adjusted for total gray matter volume of brain. Whole-brain analyses confirmed that higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids was selectively associated with increased greater gray matter volume in these and not other regions.
Higher reported consumption of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids is associated with greater gray matter volume in areas of the brain supporting emotional arousal and regulation. The researchers suggest that theses associations may affect observed effects of omega-3 fatty acids on memory, mood and affect regulation.