Researchers have narrowed down the task of warding off Alzheimer’s disease into a simple one — eating more fish.

In a new study, 260 people with an average age of 71 were followed to see how much fish they ate and how it was prepared. The results showed those who ate baked or broiled fish on at least a weekly basis were much less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or mild mental impairment.

“The new study is the first to establish a direct relationship between fish consumption, brain structure, and Alzheimer’s risk,” said Cyrus Raji, MD, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The benefit is thought to come from the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, but Dr. Raji added not all fish is healthy. Some contain toxins that could raise the risk of dementia, and fried fish has no benefit for preserving memory at all.

William Thies, PhD, chief medical and scientific officer of the Alzheimer’s Association, says Dr. Raji’s study supports his group’s recommendation to eat a diet rich in cold-water fish — such as halibut, mackerel, salmon, trout and tuna — that contain beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.

Dr. Raji, who presented his findings at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, summed up the results succinctly: “More fish, more brain, less Alzheimer’s.”

[Web MD]