by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Eating plenty of oily fish, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other life-giving nutrients, several times a week can significantly reduce people’s risk of having a stroke or developing other cerebrovascular diseases. These are the findings of a new study out of England, which reinforces the plethora of existing scientific evidence showing that oily fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, and sardines possess unique neuroprotective capabilities.
Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury from Cambridge University and Professor Oscar H. Franco from Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam co-led a team of researchers in analyzing the results of 38 studies on the benefits of fish consumption. They focused particularly on the characteristics of oily fish that help prevent the onset of cerebrovascular diseases, or diseases involving the obstruction of blood flow to the brain.
The data, which was compiled on 800,000 individuals from 15 countries, revealed that both patients with established cardiovascular disease and healthy individuals can benefit greatly from oily fish consumption. Based on information gathered from a series of dietary questionnaires administered to participants in the various studies, the team observed that those who ate two to four servings of oily fish a week were six percent less likely to suffer from cerebrovascular disease compared to those who ate one or fewer servings per week.
Participants that derived the most benefit from eating oily fish consumed an average of five or more servings per week, and experienced a 12 percent decreased risk of stroke and other cerebrovascular events. Overall, every subsequent increment of two servings per week of fish was found to be associated with a four percent reduced risk of cerebrovascular disease — the more oily fish a person eats, in other words, the less likely he or she is to experience a cerebrovascular event.
«From past research we know that eating plenty of fish is good for our general health,» commented Dr. Peter Coleman, Deputy Director of Research at The Stroke Association, about the findings. «This research shows that it could also help to protect us against stroke … You can (also) reduce your risk of stroke by exercising regularly, consuming a healthy, balanced diet and getting your blood pressure checked.»
Similarly, a 2011 study published in the journal Stroke found that fish oil supplements, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids, quell brain inflammation, which in turn lowers stroke risk and boosts cognitive ability. The Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in fish oil was observed to be particularly beneficial in promoting the health of cell membranes, neural structures, and brain tissue, all of which are vitally important for preventing the onset of a stroke.