Brain health may be affected by modifiable lifestyle factors; consuming fish and antioxidative omega-3 fatty acids may reduce brain structural abnormality risk.
To determine whether dietary fish consumption is related to brain structural integrity among cognitively normal elders.
Data were analyzed from 260 cognitively normal individuals from the Cardiovascular Health Study with information on fish consumption from the National Cancer Institute Food Frequency Questionnaire and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The relationship between fish consumption data collected in 1989–1990 and brain structural MRI obtained in 1998–1999 was assessed using voxel-based morphometry in multiple regression analyses in 2012. Covariates were age, gender, race, education, white matter lesions, MRI-identified infarcts, waist–hip ratio, and physical activity as assessed by the number of city blocks walked in 1 week. Volumetric changes were further modeled with omega-3 fatty acid estimates to better understand the mechanistic link between fish consumption, brain health, and Alzheimer disease.
Weekly consumption of baked or broiled fish was positively associated with gray matter volumes in the hippocampus, precuneus, posterior cingulate, and orbital frontal cortex even after adjusting for covariates. These results did not change when including omega-3 fatty acid estimates in the analysis.
Dietary consumption of baked or broiled fish is related to larger gray matter volumes independent of omega-3 fatty acid content. These findings suggest that a confluence of lifestyle factors influence brain health, adding to the growing body of evidence that prevention strategies for late-life brain health need to begin decades earlier.