New research suggest salmon, sardines and mackerel can boost memory and overall mental and emotional health.

Eating oily fish a couple of times a week might help stave off dementia by boosting blood flow to the brain, a new study by American researchers has revealed.

Omega-3 fatty acids which are found in oily fish like mackerel and salmon where shown by researchers to increase blood flow in areas of the brain which control memory and learning.

‘This is very important research because it shows a correlation between lower omega-3 fatty acid levels and reduced brain blood flow in regions of the brain which are important for learning, memory, depression and dementia,’ explained study author Professor Daniel Amen.

The study provides hope that subtle dietary changes could play an important role in keeping brains healthier for longer. It also revealed that higher levels of omega-3 could boost psychological health too. ‘The role of ‘fish oil’ fatty acids in mental health and brain physiology is just beginning to be explored,’ says study co-author Professor William Harris. ‘This study opens the door to the possibility that relatively simple dietary changes could favourably impact cognitive function.’

The link between brain development in babies and omega-3 fats has been known for some time (that’s why they’re added to formula milk) but this doesn’t mean they will necessarily protect against dementia and mental decline, warn UK dementia experts.

‘There is some evidence eating fish containing omega-3 could help reduce the risk of developing dementia, but it’s not clear if the omega-3 itself is responsible,’ says Doug Brown from the Alzheimer’s Society.

Whilst research continues, there’s certainly no harm in eating oily fish a couple of times a week as part of a healthy diet.