Doctors and scientists have long known that n-3 fatty acids, also known as omega-3s, are purported to have a positive influence on brain health. If you are concerned with maintaining your cognitive abilities and keeping your brain healthy you likely already sustain a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids through fish, walnuts, supplementation and/or other means. We have discussed the topic of omega-3s in several historic blog posts:
- 5 Strategies to Improve Memory
- The Best Holiday Brain Foods
- Brain Healthy Foods, What to Choose
- Increase Brain Power with Food
- Leading a Long and Cognitively Strong Life
A new study organized by the French National Institute for Agriculture Research (INRA) (an abstract of the study can found here: N-3 Long-chain Fatty Acids and Regulation of Glucose Transport in Two Models of Rat Brain Endothelial Cells) gives us some insight to why omega-3s are good for the brain. It has been discovered that omega-3s regulate energy levels by affecting glucose delivery and metabolism in the brain. The researchers from the INRA used two models of rat brain endothelial cells (RBEC) to evaluate the effects of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and arachidonic acid (AA, an omega-6) on fatty acid composition of membrane phospholipids and glucose uptake.
In layman’s terms, when the rats were fed DHA, EPA and AA, their endothelial cells rapidly incorporated the EFAs into their membrane phospholipids and, as a result, basal glucose transport in their endothelial cells was increased. After supplementation with EPA and DHA the increase was 50 percent and 35 percent, respectively. Although this study took place in animals it does suggest that doses of omega-3s and other essential fatty acids are likely to positively impact glucose transport and utilization by cerebral cells in humans.
So please remember that not all fat is bad and a well-rounded diet, rich in omega-3s and antioxidants is one of the best things you can do for the health of your brain.