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Omega-3 May Improve Cognitive Flexibility in People at Risk of Alzheimer’s

Cognitive flexibility refers to the mental ability to efficiently switch between thinking about two different concepts, and to think about multiple concepts simultaneously. A recent study suggests that a higher consumption of omega-3 fatty acids may help with improved cognitive flexibility in adults who are at risk of late onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Previous studies have suggested that cognitive flexibility and other executive functions may better predict daily functioning than memory does. These executive functions tend to decline earlier than other functions in aging.

Participants in the study included 40 cognitively healthy older adults who were between the ages of 65 and 75. All were carriers of the gene variant APOE e4, which is known to contribute to late-onset Alzheimer’s. The researchers tested the participant’s cognitive flexibility and measured their brains using MRI. They also performed cognitive flexibility tests.

The participants with higher blood levels of omega-3s performed better on the cognitive flexibility tests than those with lower levels. They also had a bigger anterior cingulate cortex compared to their lower omega-3 peers. The anterior cingulate cortex is the region of the brain that is known to contribute to cognitive flexibility.

Researchers from the University of Illinois conducted the study. It was published on May 21, 2015, in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

Omega-3s have been linked to a number of health benefits, including alleviating arthritis pain, better moods, improved joint mobility, helping with age related macular degeneration, and aiding your immune system.

Because omega-3 fatty-acids are not found naturally in the human body, it is especially important to make sure that they are a part of your daily diet. Oily, dark fish such as tuna and salmon are high in DHA and EPA omega-3s.
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