Protein is best known for helping us build healthy muscle, but the nutrient delivers head-to-toe benefits. In particular, protein plays an important role in the health of your brain, and getting enough of the right elements in your diet can help keep it functioning.
Protein is found in every cell of the body including the brain, so it is important to get enough of it through your diet. That said, of all Protein rich foods There, some may benefit your brain more than others.
As for which proteins support your brain the most, we asked a neurologist who told us that you can support your cognitive function over the years by adding more fatty fish to your routine. Here’s why.
Fatty fish, which includes salmon, black cod, anchovies and bluefin tuna, is high in protein and other nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids (a type of “healthy fats), making it a nutritious addition to any diet.
For example, a 6-ounce filet of cooked salmon provides 43.2 grams of protein and 246 percent of the daily value (DV) for omega-3 fatty acids, per serving. US Department of Agriculture.
with input from Sharon Stoll, DOMD, a neurologist and assistant professor of neurology at Yale University School of Medicine, takes an in-depth look at how eating fatty fish on a regular basis can support healthy cognition.
4 ways fatty fish benefits your brain
The brain is made up of about 60 percent fat, so it’s important Nutrients for brain functionto me John Hopkins Medicine. But some formats may be better than others.
Docosahexaenoic acidDHA, or DHA, is an omega-3 fatty acid most commonly associated with brain function, although it also supports a healthy nervous system.
Fish is an ideal source of DHA because it is readily available. In fact, most of the major food sources of DHA are fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and cod US Department of Agriculture. Plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which converts to DHA in the body.
Brain tissues may have a preference for DHA in order to keep the brain functioning normally and efficiently Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
DHA is especially important for early childhood brain development, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Although its effects are mainly seen in infants, the effects of DHA may also be seen during childhood and adulthood, according to a January 2016 review in aNutrientsa.
In adulthood, low levels of DHA have been linked to an increased risk of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Supports healthy blood flow
The body is made up of complex systems, and they don’t work independently of each other. your workflow cardiovascular systemFor example, it can affect your brain health.
“A lot of people don’t realize how interconnected the heart and brain are — you can’t have one without the other,” Stoll says. “Healthy fats are important for brain health because they are important for the cardiovascular system, which then plays a role in brain functioning.”
Keeping your heart healthy can lower your risk of brain-related health problems such as stroke and dementia, according to Center for Disease Control. When your blood vessels are damaged, your brain can face serious consequences.
“To keep your brain in tip-top shape, we want your blood vessels to be as open as possible,” says Stoll. This is where nutrient-dense foods like fatty fish come in.
Protein is an essential nutrient, but animal proteins like pork and some cuts of beef are high in saturated fat, which can raise levels of “bad” cholesterol in your blood and clog your arteries. This increases the risk of stroke and heart attack, according to American Heart Association (AHA).
Fish is a healthier source of protein because it is not high in saturated fat. In fact, omega-3 fatty acids may actually improve endothelial function (the lining of blood vessels), promote vasodilation (widening of blood cells) and reduce artery wall stiffness, according to March 2017 research in aNutrition, metabolism and cardiovascular diseasea.
Thus, keeping your heart healthy translates to better blood flow to your brain.
3. It may help lower triglycerides
There is a lot to learn Alzheimer’s diseaseThis is the most common type of dementia, but high triglyceride levels may play a role.
“Eating fatty fish is important for brain health for the same reason it’s important for the heart — it’s associated with lower triglyceride levels,” Stoll says. That’s right: Higher triglyceride levels in midlife are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease later in life, according to a January 2018 study in aNeurologya.
“Triglycerides are part of what clogs those vessels in the brain and throughout the body, which leads to stroke and heart disease,” Stoll says. According to Mayo Clinic.
4. It may help reduce the risk of mental decline
As the number of older adults (those over the age of 65) is steadily increasing, so too are the rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s diagnoses. An estimated 5.8 million people in the United States have the disease, although the number is expected to rise in the coming years, according to Center for Disease Control.
Getting more DHA was associated with a lower risk of these diseases, according to a June 2022 study in aNutrientsa. Low levels of DHA have also been linked to an increased risk. All that said, more research is needed to determine what direct benefits DHA may have on cognition.
“While the research isn’t conclusive, one thing is for sure — nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids may help protect your brain over time and can slow the progression of brain diseases,” Stoll says.
How often should you eat fish?